by Tom Wainwright.

Tour to 9 June 2011.
Runs 1hr 5min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 29 April at Burton Taylor Studio Oxford.

Fishy fantasy well-related.

Tom Wainwright takes a walk through a city centre pedestrianised zone. Everything’s there, including the standard supermarkets, chain-stores and coffee-houses. Outside one of which a fish sits, sipping latte. The Greggs, Costas and Tescos will recur, in some dream (or nightmare)-like amalgam of pedestrian zones, within something like a Groundhog Day cycle of eternal return.

And the fish (there’s one in a bowl on stage, though it’s not drinking like a human) features large as Tom’s fantastic journey eventually takes him underwater. Then through a cosmos of unearthly and down-to-earth locations, as the fish becomes Tom’s obsession and source of anxiety.

An unlikely object upon which to foist the fears of modern life and the urban mind, but in its way more powerful for being so unlikely, and consequently without risk of being taken literally. And as Tom, unable to stop walking down these mean zones – except whenever his fantasy takes him elsewhere – worries, he classifies those around him, categorising each of them according to their lunchtime supermarket of choice.

The gains in this quirkily unusual piece come in the brilliance of descriptive incidents the free-form allows. The drawback (apart from individually less brilliant ideas, which, fortunately, are in a definite minority) is maintaining coherence and credibility – somethingvital within the diverse possibilities a fantasy allows.

Tom’s Tom, the writer, performer and character merging. It places great responsibility on one of them at least to be hyper-interesting. Fortunately, when writer and character falter, there’s always Tom the performer to fall back on. Or rather, look forward to.

He comes over as unassuming and entirely reasonable, neither fanciful nor paranoid, a perfect fit into the cappuccino community. So, the play’s character is served well by its actor, doubtless aided by director Amelia Sears.

Shifting between narration and responses to images on the screen behind him, slipping easily into the next stage of action, continuing calmly without reaction to the near-subliminal moments of sound that occur in the early part of the performance, actor Wainwright clearly had this immaculate performance in mind when, as Wainwright the playwright, he penned the piece.

Tom Wainwright: Tom Wainwright.
Fish: 126.

Director: Amelia Sears.
Designer: Simon Kenny.
Sound/Video: Simon Wainwright.
Dramaturg: Sarah Dickinson.

2011-05-13 00:39:35

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