By Jay Menard
Any good angler knows that if you catch a fish that’s not mature enough, you need to throw it back and give it time to grow. While Fish Saw ambitiously took a bite at hooking the audience, it still needs more time, better editing, and greater focus before it’s ready to reel in the rave reviews.
There is a tremendous amount of potential in Sachie Mikawa and George Lewis’ play. There are absolutely poetic moments, beautiful imagery, engaging quirkiness, and an endearing lead in Mikawa. However, these positives get obscured by a meandering plot, extraneous non-sequiturs, superfluous characters that take too much of the play’s time, and, of course, technical challenges.
Fish Saw, in many ways, sets itself up for failure. It is a tech-heavy show that blends lighting, sound cues, and a large-screen visual element run off a projector in the middle of the audience. During the opening night performance (its debut performance anywhere), there were several audio cues that were delayed or played out of sequence. At one point the screen went dark at a time when Mikawa was mirroring what was happening on screen with a patch of sand on the stage. And on a handful of occasions, Mikawa was left waiting, frozen in an awkward position, while she awaited a sound or visual cue to arrive.
Certainly, it was an ambitious production. But the challenge with anything that’s multimedia in nature is that if one domino falls, it can bring the rest of the production down with it. And that’s what we saw with Fish Saw — the production quickly became disjointed and with it went the plot.
There are several plot lines and stories interweaved throughout this production — many with no actual point. And a major character that serves as the focal point of the key emotional moment — a heartbreaking tragedy that brings about the conclusion of the play — is only introduced in the final few moments of the production (though, to be fair, the character is alluded to earlier in a video element.)
Fish Saw is a play you want to see succeed. Mikawa is so endearing that you’re rooting for her throughout. And, at the heart of it, there’s a beautifully poetic story that’s augmented by stunning visuals. It just needs some editing, refinement, focus, and — most importantly — time to sort out.
** – two stars out of five.
This review initially appeared on theatreinlondon.ca