The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish

‘The Inconsequential Lives of Little Fish’ is a delightful new story, delivered in an adult, fairy-tale style – but with a strong message of human rights breeches, cruelty and slavery. This heartfelt, gripping two-hander was sensitively written by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation award recipient, and star of the show, Frieda Lee. I called this a two hander, but there was a guest appearance that pulled a few heart strings.

Mitchell Whelan should have no trouble marketing such an ingenious show. This 65-minute Erin Lockyer production designates the desperate need for the Australian Government’s inquiry into modern slavery, and to make us think about the real story behind the cheap imported seafood.

‘Little fish’ is showing at The Blue Room Studio Theatre until Saturday 22nd September. On the first week, the shows begin at 8.30 pm, then until the 15th they have curtain up at 7.00 pm and for the last week the shows go back to 8.30 pm.

The scene: The beach on Crocodile Island is a beauty spot in the North West of the Indian Ocean.

The set: It is not often that the set brings a gasp of admiration, but this one designed by Maeli Cherel and constructed by Étain Boscato certainly did. The scene is the edge of the beach next to a poor fisherman’s shack built of flotsam. His fishing nets are drying on the fence. The sand is strewn with branches, pine wood pallets, debris and an old tin bath.

Phoebe Pilcher is developing a fine reputation for her thoughtful and sensitive lighting design. At first glance the lighting seems simple, but there are quite complex combinations of lamps and colours in each scene. Like Phoebe, the soundscape designer, Isaac Diamond has presented a superb mix of sound effects and subtle music. Clever work.

       A lonely, poverty-stricken fisherman (Sam Hayes) is happily rod fishing on the beach, when one day he catches an amazingly beautiful fish. In good angling tradition, he kisses the fish, only to find that it speaks back to him, before slowly taking on a human persona. He had just caught much needed company – perhaps even a wife (Frieda Lee).
     Soon the family budget became strained, and the fisherman had to take a deck job on a deep-sea trawler. The family’s life was about to dramatically change.

With Sam having to play several parts, it was essential that the audience not only knew when there was a different individual, but that the actual personality of the character should instantly come though. Maeli Cherel’s costumes clearly showed the nature and social status of the wearers.

Whilst going through Hell, Little Fish touchingly radiated love, with a desire to trust and help everyone. A moving performance with huge depth. Sam Hayes played multiple characters, from the most obnoxious and cruel, to an easy-going, happy beach fisherman. Two amazing performers bringing to life an atrocious tale.

With the collaborative and creative team composed of WAAPA graduates, the audience may expect quality, but this show will still surpass their expectations.

Is a product really cheap when human suffering is involved?