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Nice Fish: Theater review by David Cote
Although I’ve never gone ice-fishing, I can appreciate the metaphorical richness of the sport: A man (usually a man) hunkers down on a frozen sheet he’s drilled through, waiting in cold isolation for something below to tug. Thus we all hunt blindly for meaning, connection, love—take your pick. Mark Rylance is clearly alert to the levels in his silly yet engaging resetting of text by Minnesota poet Louis Jenkins. Nice Fish is a whimsical, ultimately resonant portrait of lost souls waiting to hook or be hooked.
The piece takes place on a wintry wasteland with a miniature town twinkling on the horizon. Focused and terse Erik (Jim Lichtscheidl) suffers the blather and goofing-off of friend Ron (Rylance) as both wait for their lines to twitch. The fellas are visited by an official from the Department of Natural Resources (Bob Davis) , an old-timey spear fisher (Raye Birk) and a perky young woman (Kayli Carter). It’s all vaguely Waiting for Godot–ish, and Jenkins makes a modest bid as a flyover-state Samuel Beckett. Generally though, the ultimate lure is a chance to see a great actor like Rylance cutting loose.—David Cote
St. Ann’s Warehouse (Off Broadway). By Louis Jenkins and Mark Rylance. Directed by Claire van Kampen. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 35mins. No intermission.
Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote