Written with a pop sensibility that brings out the dimples during a smile, Girl In A Goldfish Bowl is the sugar in your tea, the cherry on your sundae. But lest you think that sweetness is its only attribute I beg you to think again. This play’s underpinnings are the day to day troubles of a broken family as remembered by a young girl. Sadness, loneliness, alcoholism, and falling out of love all play roles in this Canadian family that must discover the origin and plans of the mysterious stranger in their home and answer the real question…. is this man my dead goldfish?
Directed by Gregg Henry, Girl in the Goldfish Bowl opens with gentle charm — the play is funny, witty and smart and has a pleasant feel. Under the surface however there is a dysfunctional layer that remains hidden in the pre-teen wisecracks delivered throughout the first act. There are quite a few fantastic performances and the ensemble help us fit the pieces to the puzzle as they become available.
To say Susan Lynskey who portrays the young Iris is fabulous in this role would be an understatement — she tells Morris Panych’s melancholy story with the bratty humor needed to bring it off without the part seeming overly done. Her interaction with the rest of the cast including her mother (Kathleen Coons), Mr Lawrence (Michael Russotto), her father (Bobby Smith) and Miss Rose (Susan Ross) is sometimes funny and other times bittersweet but consistently an engaging piece of theatre. Mr. Russotto is similarly fantastic in his role as the mysterious Mr. Lawrence. His jolting mannerisms and jittery ramblings endear him to the audience immediately.
The technical aspects of the production are pleasing and clever. Bubbly sounds move from stage to ceiling simulating a living room fishbowl only leaving out the bejeweled plastic treasure chest complete with plastic air nozzle. Pastel colors and retro furniture are only the start of a set design that includes some pretty nifty surprises. The rippled lighting adds to the watery effect.
Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, entertains with a whimsical flurry of well delivered lines and child like humor. As the whimsy disappears late in the second act so does much of the plays enormous appeal. No matter, Mr. Henry and company still deliver a fanciful production full of all the things that make live theatre such an engaging and delicious form of entertainment. This is a highly recommended show – see it right away.
Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, by Morris Panych. Directed by Gregg Henry. Lighting design, John Burkland; costumes, Deb Sevigny; sound design, William Burns. two hours. Through Oct. 15 at MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Visit http://www.boxofficetickets.com/ or call 703-548-9044.