Fish Eye is a time-scrambled romantic comedy set in New York that looks at various parts of a failing three-year relationship between a couple, Max (Dominic Farrow) and Anna (Carlotta Bazzu).
Lucas Kavner has written an exceptional and insightful but yet, not very well known piece of work. It was, however, well known enough to sell out its opening night at the 90 seat studio Tabard theatre.
The writing was the belle of this ball. Its broken timelines and the millennial melting pot of sexual tensions between the cast was reminiscent of “Closer” and “The last 5 years”. The intelligence of Kavner’s writing is in his ability to keep the audience always cognizant of where in the timeline we are. The dialogue and style made each character uniquely jump off the page, giving the actors a blessing of a starting point.
Which leads me to the acting. It’s lucky that the writing was excellent as not all the performances were. There was a sad lack of chemistry between Max and Anna. It felt like they were perpetually in the end throes of their relationship, even at the beginning, which meant that their scenes dragged and I was desperately ready for the end of the relationship to really happen. It was like listening to a friend moan about their boyfriend for ages, meaning every time they start talking “Zach”, you zone out.
The acting was saved by the two “outer relationship” influences of Avery (Elisha Robin) and Jay (Dean Lamb). Dean embodied his character fantastically well and I could see he had a solid level of craft. It was, however, a pity he wasn’t able to have more chemistry with Anna, who he is low-key trying to steal away from Max.
The standout performance for me was easily Elisha Robin. From the moment she came on stage, she was a breath of fresh “authentic New-York” air, owning her character, filling in dead spaces between action and dialogue and embodying with a dizzying level of truth, the sadness of being the best friend and the pain of unrequited love, watching your love move further and further away from you.
The most important thing an actor can do is make an audience empathise with their story, so we feel it is ours also. Robin made me feel my own lost loves, the pain of watching someone I want with another. Not only that, she was so natural she provided majority of the laughs, without trying, to the point that every time she came on stage there was an energy shift in the theatre as the audience knew that she would deliver, and oh how she did. Definitely an actress to watch.
With the direction, I am struggling to understand really what was provided as the main points were already written into the script. The interactions between the characters did not feel worked enough for me to believe they were directed to be that way so, I think more could have been done to tighten the nuances of this piece.
With shows like Fish Eye, the relationships between the characters are absolutely everything. Unfortunately these relationships, all felt like they needed more work to establish not only the hierarchy of connections but the reasons for why he loves her and she wants him.
Fish Eye has a lot of promise and for fans of Patrick Marber’s Closer or Steve McQueen’s Shame, I would say it is worth a watch. Or at the very least, the play text is worth the buy.
Fish Eye has completed its run at the Tabard Theatre