Reviewed by Mer Weinhold. Mer is an Ottawa-dwelling writer, editor, reviewer, and costuming enthusiast. You can follow them on Twitter.
by Sachie Mikawa & George Lewis
45 min / Solo, Multimedia, Experimental / PG
As one may anticipate from a play about the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a broad range of emotional experiences are present in Fish Saw. The play packs a lot into a short time, with a series of (almost all true) stories about multiple generations of Sachie Mikawa’s rather extraordinary family. These vignettes lead up to the tsunami and the effect it had on the family, who lived in Sendai, one of the hardest-hit cities in Japan.
The set is simple and effective. A handful of sand, scattered in one corner of the stage, is used to track the ongoing renovation of the family home overlooking the sea – as the family grows, more rooms are built; sketched in the sand. A screen and projector on one side of the stage display short animated scenes during costume changes, and title cards to introduce new stories. Sometimes Mikawa interacts with the scenery or characters on the screen in beautifully choreographed performances.
Opening night had a few sound and projection cues which were slightly mistimed, due to only having had one tech run, as Mikawa had arrived in Ottawa earlier that day. These were all dealt with gracefully and with humour, and future audiences can look forward to a smoothly flowing show.
Mikawa moves easily between characters, from a young girl, to the fish she rescued, to a noodle chef, to the family’s progenitor – a man who just wanted to drink sake by the ocean and enjoy the sound of the waves. Nearly every story has a thread of humour woven through its more serious themes, for a full experience of the complexities of everyday life. Come for the blue sequinned fish costume, stay for a beautiful, funny, tragic, touching play about the endurance of memory in the face of human mortality.
Fish Saw is playing at La Nouvelle Scène (333 King Edward Ave) until Sunday June 18, 2017. Tickets cost $12 online and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the show schedule and box office info. Apt613 is trying to see every show on opening weekend of the 2017 Ottawa Fringe Festival. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.