Gathered around a large wooden table, three generations of one family sip fish soup at the start of Andrew Bovell’s 2008 play. The time-jumping story and single-table setting recall Dan LeFranc’s The Big Meal, but Bovell puts a post-apocalyptic spin on the ancestral family drama. The deterioration of the Law bloodline over 80 years mirrors the environment’s decline; the play begins and ends in the year 2039, when it’s always raining and fish have become extinct.
From a depressed housewife in 1959 London to her depressed single-father grandson in 2039 Australia, the script juggles multiple stories and timelines. Motifs of fish soup, freshly painted walls, lost hats and people drowning in Bangladesh link the various threads together, but Bovell stretches the “everything is connected” theme to its limit. As the coincidences become more frequent, they start to diminish the impact of the situations.
The story focuses on the two women in Gabriel Law’s (Luke Daigle) life, depicting his mother, Elizabeth (Katherine Keberlein and Mary Redmon), and his lover Gabrielle (Catherine Price-Griffin and Anita Hoffman) at different ages. All four women are exceptional, and Keberlein reaches the emotional high point of the production with her devastating breakdown late in the play. There’s a sense of comfort and familiarity among the cast even though most of the characters never interact with each other. When they sit together at the table, their relationships transcend time and space, and they become a family united.