Fish Bowl deals with a reality-television game show, with six contestants chosen to duke it out for 11 million dollars. Before the game officially begins and the rules are explained, however, something goes awry and no one is really sure if they are fighting for money or just to survive. This play seems to beg the question of “How far is too far in voyeurism and ratings?” Unfortunately for the piece, this question is not a new one, nor does it succeed it its attempt to answer said question in a new and entertaining way. The main problem with this production is that it parodies that which has already been joked about the nth degree. Egomaniacal transsexuals, egomaniacal television producers, and socially awkward hillbillies are not new or shocking subjects.
The production is not without merit, however, as the cast does manage to provide entertainment with caricatures of reality show “stars” we love to hate. Katie Apicella, Jeff Edgerton, Simone Harrison, and Mike Borelli, all deliver laughs in the face of material that could be funnier. Jeff Edgerton’s role is the most grounded performance we see, and causes his Benjamin to be the most sympathetic character in the show. I’m actually still chuckling when I think of his security-blanket dry-erase board.
The integration of multimedia is not only done well, it actually enhances the show (because of the pre-established television setting) when so often such devices tend to detract from a production. All the technical aspects of the show deserve credit, from the set (which makes a good use of limited space) to the lights and sound.
The incorporation of dance, which is humorous in the beginning, becomes less so and feels rather pointless as the piece continues.
Perhaps more die-hard fans of reality TV would see more in this show than I did. The technical aspects and talent will, however, keep me on the lookout for the next production of the I Ate What? Theatre Company.
The I Ate What? Theatre Company presents Fish Bowl at the Michael Weller Theatre through January 22nd, no Tuesdays. http://www.theatermania.com/ for tickets and info.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.