A Melbournian who wonders as I wander. I have spent a lot of life colouring in moments and take great pleasure in creative expression of experience. Interested in Design, Art, Film, Photography, Painting and all things French.
When I first started to read the event details of Parenthesis, the central word that leapt from my skimmed glance through was Fish. For some reason 'Goodbye and thanks for all the fish', the title song from 'The Hitchhikers Guide from the Galaxy', started playing in my head and I really can't say this wasn't intrinsic in encouraging me to read further. I am so glad I did.
Humming fish songs, my curiosity piqued I looked up the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm tale it was based off, 'The Fisherman and his wife.
This parable was laced with the universal conflict between want and need. Every element was so suited to a modern adaptation I couldn't wait to see it.
I had in my mind this quote from a Terry Pratchett Novel I was rereading, 'Witches Abroad', about how "Stories etch grooves deep enough for people to follow in the same way that water follows certain paths down a mountainside. And every time fresh actors tread the path of the story the groove runs deeper."
I wandered which grooves of 'The Fisherman and His Wife'Parenthesis would scratch in and what alternative pathways of modern understanding it may offer.
I had not been to The Butterfly Club before and finding it was a revelation in itself. Just down the alleyway next to the discount bookshop in Little Collins Street - which I visit all the time. I never knew it was there.
The Miss Fox boutique's long window leads stylishly to its door. I know the city laneways well, but this was a whole new hour and side of the city I was discovering.
Arrival up a dimly lit staircase set a magical atmosphere. This was continued by the glow of blue green and yellow light in the bar where quite a crowd gathered to wait the old fashioned bell announcing it was time for the play to start.
The bar was an eclectic jumble of pop culture. It was later I analysed an unpacked child's toy box layered with all their stages of obsession from child to teen. It made me think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ornaments, posters, dolls, it was brimming but what stood out were the old books. I felt surrounded by stories and it helped to bring the world of the performance to life. Like a gust of breeze had fluttered one of these books pages open and blown out its characters onto the stage.
I wasn't quite prepared when the performance started. It was sold out with interest and the audience milled in. I settled into a pew enjoying the view past an old bookshelf to introduction to one of several magical creatures. They immediately appealed.
The costumes were perfectly suited to give both a sense of the characters and a reference point in modern culture. It was easy to relate to the situations. Every scene was full of wry humour.
I loved how the original tale had been read and the enth's of each sentence teased out to conclusions only logical in this turvy millennial 'politically correct' dimension in which we live.
An existentialist angst suddenly became apparent in more complex characterisations. The Original Fisherman, his wife and the magical creature now seemed paper thin when cast against the vibrant cast. You could see the conflicts, misunderstandings and concerns of a real marriage not just a fairytale surface representation.
I was left with greater sympathy for the Fisherman's wife. Her desires now made sense as logical conclusions of practicality as opposed to mere selfish whim.
Every character provided some nuance that was relatable and they were all so funny that the last sentence was a jolt, everyone was so immersed they didn't know how to react when it stopped.
I was extremely happy to have followed the word fish into such a wonderful sea of entertainment.
You leave this performance with your mind wired with philosophical inspiration whilst inwardly grinning with that sense you have shared, catching the gist of all that is bizarre in modern life with the rest of the cast and audience.
It is a light-hearted journey into deep thought. It clarify's modern fears and the torment of dissatisfaction. The audience is presented with the enlightened sense of whatever we have, can be all we need, if only we take ownership over our choices within our circumstance.
This production took the reigns of the bare original story and enriched it with entertainment through its perceptiveness.
I would love to spend more time with these characters and thoroughly enjoyed visiting The Butterfly Club. I hope many more people follow the magical fish into this delightful production's world.