If there is a best way to describe the multi-faceted Girl In the Goldfish Bowl, written by Morris Panych, the latest production by Korda Artistic Productions, it is a zany comedy wrapped within a dramatic shell. Panych takes the audience inside a boarding house that is not really a boarding house but more an accurate measure of a dysfunctional family.
Oh, but there is a boarder, the sexually charged Miss Rose, played without any sanctimoniousness pretense by the delightful Cindy Pastorius. She is more an institution in the place so when a stranger arrives, sans apparel, in the middle of the night, and spends his time wearing the man of the house’s bath robe, and nothing else, as the audience can see, it is not certain there will be room at the inn.
The mysterious Mr. Lawrence, delivered with the mannerisms of a Forrest Gump by Greg Girty, has an infectious habit of answering questions with ever more innocent questions which incites talk of him being a spy although, it is reasoned, his name does not seem Russian enough, if at all. It is October 22, 1962, in the middle of the Cuban Missile Crisis, so the worry of interlopers has credibility.
It is also the final days of the house’s resident youngster Iris’ childhood. The less than precocious lass does have a steady grasp of reality although possibly is too young to really understand the nuances. This impresses the audience to no end. Of course, they, being adults, are fully acquainted with all that is going on.
Iris is solidly convinced Mr. Lawrence’s arrival has something to do with the death of her beloved goldfish Amahl, as in reincarnation. If there is a way to describe Paige Panella’s performance as protagonist Iris, the only word which comes to mind is brilliant. It is certainly an uphill challenge to play an eleven-year old, with all the lightness such requires, but Panella definitely defies gravity. How does she do it? She tells Eyes On Windsor she had a simple solution, she sought guidance from her five-year old daughter whom she also observed extensively.
The other two cast members are her mother Sylvia, played with a certain expectation of freedom from boredom by Kristy Loewen, and her father Owen (Clinton Hammond), acted with the general frustration of a man unable to work but does manage to draw angles on his homemade drafting table while realizing he is losing his wife of a dozen years.
Despite being a comedy, with some very decent lines, often with a tantalizing bit of sexual innuendo, the plot continues to thicken as bits of information are revealed. While Mr. Lawrence seems as innocent as freshly fallen snow, his past does have something of which he is not generally proud.
It would explain, as Iris finds out, the word “Prison” on his clothes which, like his moustache, disappear from the clothes line and his upper lip, respectively, very quickly.
Iris, it seems, rarely leaves the house, certainly not for schooling, explaining she has to give up Buddhism to get back to her Catholic school. Her continued presence is genius with her the cement both holding the plot together and providing a commentary as it moves along. Her innocence is so neatly abstracted against the world-weary Miss Rose who frequents the local Legion nightly to cavort with the men as if every night is a remake of VE day.
She, like Sylvia, has her eyes set on Mr. Lawrence with Sylvia actually winning the prize, so to speak. As the final curtain is about to fall, playwright Panych delivers a poignant scene in which the nuclear family return from discarding poor Mr. Lawrence to a watery grave and are laughing and enjoying being together, possibly for the first time in a long while. But does it last?
Girl in the Goldfish Bowl is certainly a play to consider with a bit of a bonus, music from the period is played throughout, ending nicely with Henry Mancini’s Moon River.
Directed by Sarah Jane Fitzgerald, the play is sponsored by Nancy Johns Gallery and Framing, Juniper Used and Rare Books and Allegra in Via Italia.
It will play for three weekends, April 6-7, 11-14 and 18-20 at 8 pm, with Sunday matinees at 2 pm at the Kordazone Theatre 2520 Seminole Street in Windsor’s east end. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 seniors and $10 students.
For more information visit the Eyes On Windsor Event Listing for Girl In The Goldfish Bowl.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.