Review: Fishbowl (rating 4/5)
In an apartment block in Paris two very different neighbours live in very different apartments. One is spotlessly clean and sleek with a toilet that emerges from the wall when you clap and then retreats when you clap again. The other is overflowing with boxes and clutter that also stretch outside the flat and invade the door of a third flat into which a new neighbour is moving.
The new neighbour is female, and the one thing that unites the two men in the other apartments is their desire to impress her. As for the new arrival, the one thing that defines her is her ability to cause chaos whatever she attempts to do.
That’s the set up for Fishbowl, the award-winning French comedy that is now doing a full fringe run at The Grand theatre in Pleasance Courtyard. It’s a large venue for a company and play that is largely unknown in the UK, but the reviews and reputation of the show are making it look like the place it was meant to be with sell-out audiences queuing up to see it.
More a series of vignettes than a play with a strong storyline, it is also a play that is visual rather than dialogue based. It draws on slapstick traditions and at times makes Mr Bean seem like sophisticated high-brow storytelling by comparison.
There are some great ideas that are imaginatively played out, such as a cupboard that opens out into the next door apartment allowing the resident of the clean flat to take food from it whenever he wants, until the head, and most of the body, of his neighbour appear in his apartment via the same cupboard. The events that lead to the accident-prone new neighbour’s goldfish changing colour are another early highlight of the show.
It probably outstays its welcome by at least fifteen minutes as several false ends pass and jokes get overplayed, but overall it’s cleverly executed and very well performed by a team who clearly know how to do physical comedy and are leaders in their field.
Pleasance Courtyard until 26 August (not 14)