- Adam Bloodworth
- 12 August 2019
A classic Taiwanese short novel staged in a new experimental way
Taiwanese theatre company Shinehouse Theatre have brought to the Fringe a diverse set of shows retelling classic Taiwanese stories in accessible ways. Fish is a signed performance designed for hearing-impaired audiences, but the script projected onto the back wall in English is also essential for audiences without a hearing disability, as all the spoken language remains faithfully in Taiwanese.
Fish is an adaptation of a short novel by Taiwanese literary figure Huang Chunming. At its heart, the story is a moral fable about family relationships, but it is delivered experimentally, with puppets. The rift developing between a grandson and grandfather who live in rural Taiwan is conveyed in a story about the complications caused by the sad loss of a fish that was meant to feed a whole family for dinner.
Both grandfather and grandson are voiceless, with a supporting cast of actors sat stage right and left speaking their lines. The grandson is there in the form of a puppet; that he cannot move unless aided by the adults surrounding him is a clever way of staging the control exerted over the young man by his family. Despite his constant attempts to please them, he cannot meet the expectations of his grandfather.
The form succeeds best by illustrating the age and cultural gap between the grandfather and the young man's lives: this is a traditional story being told in an experimental way and that juxtaposition sticks. It just would've been nice to see a little more of Shinehouse Theatre's amazing puppetry: a vivid scene of the young man excitedly cycling back home with the fated fish, involving a troupe of actors using movement and props to stage a bike for the puppet lead to ride, was mesmerising.
Summerhall, until 25 Aug (not 19), noon, £10 (£8).