There’s been a change in the way we see the world in the last few years. There has been a broader understanding of the way toxic-masculinity influences humanity and possibly, the decisions that men go on to make. In Plain English Theatre Company’s Fisher, the results of this are explored with a fishing boat used as the setting.
Fisher is written by and stars, James Robertson as the protagonist Derek, whose life has been greatly impacted by the influences around him and has limited the options he feels like he can reach out to as a support system. The crew of the fishing boat is made up of; Derek’s long-time friend, Jeff (Andre Rodais) and Norman (Savier D’Arsie-Marquez). Both are seen clearly objectifying woman through the plays runtime as Derek looks on unimpressed or will begrudgingly join in when Jeff shares photos of his sexual exploits, and we find out, that he may not have been given permission for these photos to be taken.
This isn’t an isolated incident and happen throughout the play. These scenes are often uncomfortable, and Derek is chastised when he shows little to no interest in their discussions or questions the origin of the photos. His friendships are shown to directly have a negative impact on his romantic relationship, as he lacks the ability to openly discuss his feelings and the only way for him to discuss things, with his partner, Claire (Michelle Eddington) is when discussing Studio Ghibli films.
The scenes with Robertson and Eddington as their characters Derek and Claire are really sweet, and the actors have a great chemistry during them. Eddington is a truly charming actress. In a play where the male voice is so loud, she’s such a wonderful light and a joy to watch.
The actors portraying the other characters have a great chemistry too, the dynamic between Rodais’ Jeff and Robertson’s Derek appears like they have been friends for a long time. They have a natural dynamic that seems to showcase a genuine relationship. Arsie-Marquez is an actor that has two roles, as well as playing fellow crew mate, Norman, Arsie-Marquez also has the role of the ‘feminine’ brother of Claire, Roy. Both characters are polar opposites of each other, and they still manage to display clear separation between the two, despite having scenes where one character follows the other, a few short minutes after.
The script that Robertson has written is a unique one. Robertson may have taken a subject that can be viewed as a non-existent, but toxic masculinity is a reality, and Robertson‘s writing has taken the subject and made it a wonderful talking point. As wonderful as Robertson’s truly script is, there was one issue, and that was the sound.
There was a couple of moments where the actor’s voice was too loud, the sound would reverberate to the point where I couldn’t properly hear the dialogue. This did make it difficult to follow the plot, which was a real shame as it would happen during some of the more intense moments of the performance. This is nothing more than a technical issue and wasn’t something that was a fault on Fisher, or any of the performers.
Aside from this one issue, Robertson and his actors have put on a play with a very important message worth speaking about and is something that we all need to hear. Otherwise, more people will have the same fate as the characters in this play.
Fisher is on at the Melbourne Meat Market until the 20th of June.
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Photography by Samuel MacKinnon.