Show: Catch the Fish
Company: The Poor Theatre
Venue: Rivendell Theatre
Die Roll: 43 (on a d%)
Plays about 20-somethings feeling stuck (in a rut, in a life without hope, in a puddle of self pity, etc.) are a dime a dozen. Apparently being frustrated with one’s life not rocketing forward at some sort of remarkable trajectory is the first world problem that confronts much of the current generation. And therefore, it is what a lot of young playwrights address in their work, and what a lot of theatres that cater to younger directors and actors produce. On the surface, “Catch the Fish” is another of these plays. Yet, it somehow ascends to a level above the others of its ilk.
Jonathan Caren’s script focuses on the struggles of one 21-year-old who is trying to figure out his place in the world. Jordan Limpsky (played ably by Dillon Kelleher) used to be a fat kid and has insecurities that result in him living in the shadow of his friend Michael (played by Grant Spielman). Michael is the brat son of a powerful player in Hollywood, and he aspires to be not unlike dear old dad, which literally translated means “an asshole”. The character is reminiscent of Logan Echolls (“Veronica Mars”) crossed with Arnold Rimmer (“Red Dwarf”). Essentially he’s an undeserving pompous ass with a mean streak and a sense of entitlement a mile and a half long. The character could easily descend into the realm of caricature or parody, but Spielman keeps it on target and delivers a portrayal that, while not terribly likable, is believable and clearly understood.
Into the world of these two young gents comes an attractive 30-something reporter who writes for a big national magazine. Alison (played by the dynamic Abbey Smith) is is the one who drives this show. While it is clear that Caren’s intention is to tell the tale of the young guys, Alison’s arrival on the scene is not only the catalyst for the play’s action, but also a glimpse of what happens when an older and wiser person attempts to reclaim a bit of the excitement of youth by way of dipping a toe into the shallow end of the pool. While assigned to cover the “scene” in Hollywood, Alison becomes enamored with Jordan, and entertains the thought of having an affair with the guy who is 15 years her junior. She shadows him for a few days, joining him for dinner, going to his yoga class, and talking to his friends. She gets wrapped up in her work, and wades into the fountain of youth for a moment.
Eventually, though, she steps back and lets the young people be young people and returns to her own world.
Director Will Crouse steers his cast through scenes that could easily have been written for television, rather than the stage. His piece benefited greatly from having two really strong leads. Kelleher and Smith both showed muscle in their scenes. They were engaging as they spoke and as they listened. It was their scenes which had clearly received the most attention, their through-line the most care. Scenes that worked far less were those featuring Zoquera Milburn as Lindsay Sands, an actress wannabe who reluctantly uses her body to get jobs that objectify her despite wanting to be seen as something more. Lindsay embodies the shallow side of the actor’s life as most people understand it. She’s the closest thing to a stereotype in the play. But, upon looking at the lines, she doesn’t have to be. Milburn’s portrayal is surface-level at best, and the scenes which feature Spielman and her, clearly do not elevate to the level of the other couple. The directorial nuances are missing and result in something more clunky. I’m going to chalk that up to inexperience and youth… a bit ironic in a play that spotlights the young and their inexperience.
All in all, a solid effort and a play that brings a bit of hope about where we’re headed once we grow up and get un-stuck.
TEN WORD SUMMARY: Young adult seduces older woman, doesn’t get laid. Gets better.
RATING: d10 – “Worth Going To”