Fish and Chips with Edith

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2016

reviews

Ellie Donnell

at 18:12 on 18th Aug 2016

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Bristol based company, Balloon Lungs Theatre’s, ‘Fish and Chips with Edith’, sounds uninspiringly every day. Nevertheless, mundane it most certainly is not. The performance perfectly captures the domestic life and relationships of the Kauffmann family in a comical and wonderfully creative way, during the aftermath of their famous relative Edith Malone. From whining children and adolescent crushes to the complexities of marriage and parental responsibility, no stone is left unturned whilst ensures the play reaches out to every single audience member.

Its fast paced, tightly knitted comedy is what truly makes ‘Fish and Chips’ a dramatic masterpiece. Edith’s life is spoken and performed through a metrically regular bout of poetic verse and sets the tone for the witty wordplay and detailed dialogue that fills the rest of the show. Sound effects transport the audience through the years of her life whilst all the music is original, enchanting and impressively written by directors Harry Petty and Rebecca Kent with music by Shaun Wood.

Scene after scene of rigorously rehearsed action is coupled with an equally intricate script. The weaving of language between each actor, whether as a duo or in a group, is timed to an exceptional degree as sentences start and finish invariably by different characters. There is a particularly impressive moment during a flashback when two teenage friends attempt to woo a girl. Ben Bridson and Joe Kelly who play Eddie and the Rabbi perform a flawlessly executed scene that is fast, hilarious and impressive as they take on the challenging feat of performing not just their own role but a whole host of personae.

Ben Bridson should be highly commended for his stand out performance as Eddie, the son of Edith Malone. Whilst he tackles the comical components very well, he performs the more serious and raw domestic scenes with equal tenacity. However, all the actors are capable of delighting and entertaining, proved by the constant outbursts of violent laughter from the audience that threatened at times to drown out the actors’ speech.

‘Fish and Chips with Edith’ is a joyous experience. Yes it will make you laugh, but the show leaves you stuck in a state of wonder and awe at its sheer cleverness. The play tackles the intricacies of family life, the epitome of normality, in such a complex and entertaining way that this is a show not to be missed.

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Ellie Bartram

at 11:20 on 19th Aug 2016

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Balloon Lungs Theatre presents ‘Fish and Chips with Edith’ at Space on the Mile: a performance that is side-splittingly funny in its depiction of chaotic and dysfunctional family life. Eddie Kauffman (Ben Bridson) must hold his family together whilst they mourn the loss of his mother, Edith Malone. It soon becomes clear that Edith, a famous singer with world wide hits, was far less idolised by her family than her fans, and the play spirals into scenes of dysfunction and hysteria.

Through scenes of poetic verse, multi-roling and flashbacks, the stage shares intimate family memories with the audience. One that is particularly entertaining is the re-enactment of a family meal from a childhood holiday which is told and retold by different characters: despite their fame, the Kauffman family succeed in showcasing snippets of family life that may easily be generalised, and applied to most households of this day and age.

Balloon Lungs Theatre have done a commendable job in creating a brutally honest depiction of family life that is hilariously relatable, as proved by persistent bellows of laughter in the audience. Indeed, there is a certain chemistry between the actors which creates a highly convincing family dynamic on stage: all actors perform with commendable skill but Ben Bridson conveys his character especially well, particularly during hilarious scenes shared with his daughter’s boyfriend Simon (Will Kirk).

‘Fish and Chips with Edith’’s biggest strength is by far its ability to gracefully couple its light comedy with an exploration of darker themes. At the heart of the play there is the fractured mother-son relationship between Edith Malone and Eddie Kaufmann (Ben Bridson) and the disintegration of Carolyn (Alice Hoskyns) and Eddie’s marriage. Progressing speedily, the plot relies on flashbacks to explain how the family have reached their height of dysfunction and how they might move forward.

Ultimately, ‘Fish and Chips with Edith’ displays an intricate level of creativity and impressive artistic direction. The many scenes of poetic verse exhibit immense skill whilst the play’s musical composition displays exceptional talent. A soundtrack of original jazz music written especially for the show perfectly embodies the tone of ‘Fish and Chips with Edith’ and is yet another loveable element about the performance.

Balloon Lungs Theatre have captured dysfunctional life perfectly and their creativity will be hard to match at this year’s Fringe.

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Comments

Shaun Wood; 19th Aug 2016; 21:08:32

Hi Ellie Donnell, sorry to be pernickety, but the music wasn't actually written by any members of the cast. The songs' lyrics were written by the directors Harry Petty and Rebecca Kent and the music was written by Shaun Wood, Jake Herbert (also playing Saxophone), Sebastian Maniura (Bass Guitar) and Joseph Armer (Guitar); Recorded, mixed and produced by Shaun Wood. Sound Design by Shaun Wood. You can see more details at fishandchipswithedithmusic.bandcamp.com

Ed Grimble; 20th Aug 2016; 22:32:34

Not pernickety at all Shaun- I've changed the details. Apologies that the music was credited incorrectly.

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