The Ice Fishing Play

Mon 8th – Fri 12th August 2011


Leonie James

at 11:18 on 9th Aug 2011



It is thanks to the central conceit that this play received two stars. I gained a lot of respect for the production in the last minute or so. Up until that point, the picture was fairly dire.

The fatal flaw in ‘The Ice Fishing Play’ was the acting. This is an amateur production, but across the Fringe there are amateur companies that bring stellar productions. I felt like I was at a school play. A clear example of the ineptitude of these actors came when, accidentally, an actor knocked over a beer bottle prop. The cast on stage looked at it; the audience looked at it; he then pretended it hadn’t happened. Another actor saved him with an adlib, but a few minutes later when he knocked the same bottle over again, the same scene was repeated, without the adlib. Accidents happen on stage, but a clear sign of an amateur production is the inability to improvise when things do go wrong.

That said, the audience seemed remarkably welcoming, and laughed heartily at weak jokes. “That Junior, what a dumbshit”, and “You’re so educated, you’re stupid” both went down surprisingly well. So well in fact, that I sensed the audience was comprised largely of friends and family of the cast. This suspicion was confirmed when after the bow the front row waved at one of the actors.

The stage looked good. The director made excellent use of the few props and scenery they had, and I did feel as if I was in an arctic environment. However, when we get back to the play itself, things once again take a downturn. New writing should always be encouraged, and while, as mentioned earlier, I was impressed with the twist, I felt that script lacked structure. We have Ron, fishing in an ice hole. Various characters visit him there. We have Shelly and Kelly, the radio presenters, presenting their show intermittently throughout the play. I find it difficult to see what they added to this production. As for Ron, I didn’t care about him. It is unfortunate when the audience is not engaged with the central character in a production.

This play claims Ron is over-run with ‘moments of clarity about life, love and loneliness’. I personally didn’t share in any of these moments. There were plenty of cheap jokes, which I most definitely didn’t enjoy, but some of the other audience members did. It is difficult to do new writing well, and it is rare to enjoy a professional standard of acting in an amateur performance. Everyone involved in this production deserves respect and congratulations for their work, but for me, this was a very disappointing play.


May Anderson

at 11:35 on 9th Aug 2011



Kevin Kling’s ‘The Ice Fishing Play’ is a minor masterpiece compared to some of the dross I’ve seen at this year’s Fringe that treads the same well-worn ground of the pains of life’s losses. Another existentialist play that explores memory, death and aging ‘The Ice Fishing Play’ succeeds where others fail because of its serious commitment to being amusing. Set in the frozen wastes of Northern Minnesota, the play follows Ron as he seeks solitude and peace in his cabin as he fishes for that elusive big catch. Yet, Ron is not alone for long as his wife Irene, brother Ron and a group of missionaries, who really have little business traversing the ice when the storm of the century is on its way, continually intrude upon his privacy.

Not being an expert on the various provincial accents of America, I can’t really comment upon the accuracy of the accents of the cast with any assurance but they sounded disarmingly exotic to this reviewer. Understated and amiable, the particular brand of ‘Minnesota nice’ that these cast so effectively employed made me warm to the cast (and perhaps blinded me to some of their faults).

Miles Larson as Ron was incredibly likeable and down-to-earth and did a great job of covering when some of other cast members had issues with their props. Some of the other cast members clearly lacked his polish and ease upon the stage. In fact, there seemed to be an unnecessary amount of fumbled lines, particularly in the second half of the play. Sophie Bauer’s Irene however had no such issues – her performance as Ron’s talented but stifled wife was one of the show’s highlights.

The whole tone of the show can be summed up in Ron’s advice to his wife that she might ‘take up a real art, like taxidermy’. Unpretentious and droll, I was pleasantly surprised by the wit and nuance of this little show that punches above its a weight.


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