rachel hastings, james mclean & taylor olson
Rachel Hastings and Taylor Olson’s Red Fish, which plays at Bethel Church as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival, is a creative dramatization of what it can feel like for teenagers who are battling Depression in High School.
Red Fish is a strange character who carries a sack of dead fish with him and saddles up to teenagers encouraging them to second guess themselves, be antisocial in favour of Netflix, doubt their ability to achieve their goals and sabotages their relationships with others and with themselves. Played beautifully by James MacLean, Red Fish is both enticing and off-putting. He pretends to have the teenagers’ best intentions at heart, convincing them that he is saving them from failure and humiliation, but, like an addiction, he is difficult to shake. He latches on to misery and enjoys deflating hopes, joy and optimism.
The imagery here is vivid and manages to be an entirely unique perspective on how Depression manifests itself, while also tapping into experiences and feelings that are widespread and ardently familiar.
The workings of the play around Red Fish are the aspects of this play in progress that need the most tightening up. There are a lot of characters that Hastings and Olson play to create the World around their protagonists, Liz and Ethan, perhaps to closer mirror Hastings and Olson’s own life experience, that unnecessarily complicate the play. I would be interested to see if in focusing entirely on creating Liz and Ethan as two fully three-dimensional, unique teenage individuals, they would be able to give us all the context we need to understand why and how they are struggling just in their interactions with Red Fish and with one another.
The most challenging aspect of creating a play about Depression for younger audience, asking how to make it creative, engaging and with a metaphor that is strong and clear, is pretty close to perfect in this play. With a little shaping of the script, I think this play will be an engaging and exciting one to take on a tour to schools around Nova Scotia.
Red Fish plays at Bethel Church (5406 Roome Street) at the following times:
Thursday September 10- 6:30PM
Saturday September 12- 3:00pm