I really enjoy theater. Always have. I was captivated the moment I first attended a stage performance. It must have been A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Our Town or The Crucible, though, for the life of me, I can’t recall which.
During my time at university, my exposure to the myriad facets of theater were broadened appreciably. I spent countless hours reading, analyzing and writing about plays, and throughout, my enthusiasm for the medium never waned. I took in the occasional blockbuster and maintained a healthy acquaintance with the standards, but it was the small, experimental productions that captured my fascination most.
Such was the case with American Repertory Theater’s Nice Fish, a deceptively small but genuinely experimental play from the creative minds of American Poet, Louis Jenkins, and revered Shakespearean Actor, Mark Rylance.
I say “small” because the production, in essence, is just that–two leads and a few bit players. And I say “deceptively” because the elaborate quality of the set design, as well as the excellent performances, belie the conceit that avant-garde theater is somehow amateurish.
Ostensibly, the play is about two men ice fishing on the last day of the season, musing about life while waiting for something to strike their lines. It is set during the winter on a Northern Minnesota lake, and, giving the impression of an angle, the stage, adorned in jarringly-brilliant white, successfully achieves the illusion of a glacial sheet of ice, sloping toward the audience. The use of miniatures and puppets upstage provide a perspective of both depth and distance.
Jim Lichtscheidl’s measured, folksy turn as Erik is the perfect complement to Mark Rylance’s rowdy, exuberant Ron. The play is comprised of a series of vignettes reflecting observations and contemplations on life and are separated by blackouts in-between. Lines are delivered in soliloquy, which suits material derived from the prose poetry of Jenkins and the Shakespearean chops of Rylance. Some are more successful than others, but overall, the surreal, stream of consciousness feel to the performance is rewarding and enjoyable.
Nice Fish’s run has been extended through March 27. You can get additional information at the St. Ann’s Warehouse website.
45 Water Street
Pair it with:
A cookie from Jacques Torres
Sometimes, you need a cookie. Nothing else will do. And if you are looking for (arguably) the best chocolate chip cookie on the planet bar none (I know, a bold statement if there ever was one), look no further than Jacques Torres. What makes his cookie revelatory is not just the incredible amount of dark and milk chocolate chunks he folds into them or the savory-sweet balance he creates with coarse sea salt, it’s that the dough has superior flavor and always has the perfect texture of creamy center and crispy edges. He achieves this by using a special blend of bread and pastry flours. It’s a must-have! Visit what was the chocolatier’s first location for the perfect pre- or post-show treat.
66 Water Street
Monday – Saturday: 9am – 8pm
Sunday: 10am – 6pm