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Review: The KTS's Girl in the Goldfish Bowl

Most of Girl in the Goldfish Bowl’s engaging action happens in the second half, wherein the characters take every opportunity to twist the knives they’ve been slowly sticking you with in the first half. You end up with your heart in your throat.

For this review, I’m going to use something called the ‘Butt Metric’. Basically, I know how bored or engaged I am during a play by whether or not I notice that my butt’s gone numb in those old Pit chairs. For Girl in the Goldfish Bowl, my butt was divided: in the first half, I couldn’t wait to stand up and shake off the soreness; in the last half I didn’t even realize I had a butt until the lights came up. I was that enthralled.
All butts aside, the first half’s content and pace slowed it down. The first act sets up the character’s world and draws the viewer closer and closer, giving context and allowing for some hilarious moments. Once the setup is complete, most of the engaging action happens in the second half, wherein the characters take every opportunity to twist the knives they’ve been slowly sticking you with in the first half. You end up with your heart in your throat.
Gillian Clark as Iris, the play’s 10-year-old protagonist, did most of the knifing. Her character’s take on the world made you laugh and pity her at the same time as her naive wit tore into everyone around her. She was perfect, and there was something consistently, perfectly creepy about Clark’s voice in particular.
Chloe Hung, playing Iris’s mother Sylvia, was the one who did most of the knife-twisting in the last half. The final scene of her departure is breathtaking, but Hung was gradually more stunning all throughout. She made you sympathize with the coy, trapped creature that is Sylvia.
Anna Dubinski was a little more opaque as Iris’s live-in godmother Miss Rose. Dubinski provided at times a fresh take on Iris’s world, a witty jolt to the bubble she tries to live in, but at other times her character explained her actions with stock reasons like “love” without showing you why. Michael Beedie, as the puppy-eyed father, alternated perfectly between abstract and overbearing. Ames Esler as Mr. Lawrence, an escaped convict (or reincarnated goldfish – who knows!), did a brilliant job of reflecting back each of the other character’s needs without losing the uneasy undercurrent of being fish out of water.
Director Sarah Kester said she chose this play because the theme of growing up and moving on would resonate with university students. “Graduating, for me especially, is terrifying,” she adds, and once she has her EMSP/Creative Writing degree she has no idea where she’s going next.
n her director’s note, she writes, “Maybe my mother knew in a way that this would be the perfect play to send me off to university with. Maybe. I guess.” As Kester moves on, this was the perfect play for her last year of university. All the evident effort put in by the cast and crew made for a haunting goodbye.
Girl in the Goldfish Bowl runs November 24-27. See http://www.thekts.ca for details.

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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