A story for the ages
Heather Ross, Arts Contributor
The King’s Theatre Society’s production of Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is a play of mastering ages.
For the actors, this means portraying characters years older or younger than the university range.
Gillian Clark, who plays the precocious 10-year-old Iris, wears wide glasses and a bright blue dress with pockets perfect for hiding things. Her hair is in such an entangled mess that you don’t even realize she’s wearing braids until the second act. She carries the nasal tone of a child who knows too much and still wants more, crawling over furniture and people alike to find what she’s looking for.
Chloe Hung as Iris’s mother Sylvia stalks around the house in a tan blouse and a black pencil skirt, her lipstick and hair perfectly fashioned and a bandaged wrist sticking out like a sore thumb. Though Clark is taller than Hung, Hung’s superiority is clearly shown through her adult tone and strict stance.
For the characters, it is a matter of acting their own age. Sylvia has the poise of a woman, but avoids confronting her fears by pretending that something is burning in the kitchen. Her husband Owen, played by Michael Beedie, hasn’t worked since the war ended, and can’t seem to see the world beyond his passion: geometry. He does each action feebly, afraid of creating any ripples or confronting the idea of having purpose. Miss Rose, a tenant played by Anna Dubinski, acts as though it’s “still V-E Day,” going out each night and drinking with sailors and war veterans, even though she works at a fish factory. Mr. Lawrence, played by Ames Elser, is a tenant and a madman so lost in his mind that he carries no age or description.
Finally, our lead, Iris, is told that she knows too much, but is also told to stop being a child. The play focuses on her coming of age, which she calls “the last few days of childhood.”
Director Sarah Kester says this is why she chose this piece.
“The story is one I think we all can relate to, especially as university students,” she says. “It’s about a little girl who’s on the cusp of adulthood. And although we’re not children anymore, we can relate to that alienating feeling of growing up.”
The story is about a little girl who brings home a madman in hopes that he will reconnect her family after the death of her beloved goldfish, which she personally believes was the anchor of her family.
The set includes a bookshelf, a wooden dock, a drawing desk, three chairs, and a table that is covered in different types of alcohol.
“There’s no backstage. It’s just three little points,” says Kester. “There’s the little living room area, a drafting table, and then a pier. The idea is that they are fragments of (Iris’s) memory, because it’s a memory play.”
Strong points in the play include a scene where Miss Rose is drugged, where she floats along the stage and gives the audience a limp, hazy grin. Another is when Owen, unsure of himself and his surroundings throughout the entire play, finally decides to be happy; flipping a spatula and catching it with one hand.
Finally, Iris fills the room with laughter by filling her cheeks with air and flapping her hands beside her head to indicate that she thinks Mr. Lawrence is the reincarnation of her goldfish.