Mark Rylance is one of the most iconic and talented actors around so when his new play Nice Fish – inspired by the stories and lives of ice fishermen in Minnesota – was announced to make the jump across the pond to London, I was elated. Rylance prides himself on having worked hard to create an authentic and artistic piece of theatre when it comes to this play and the proof really is in the pudding. Not only is his story beautifully and honestly inspired by the stories of real fishermen and things he saw when he did research on the topic, but it’s also based upon the beautiful poetry by his co-writer Louis Jenkins; the play isn’t anything overwhelmingly powerful despite all of this work, but that’s kind of the point. This is a play that is meant to be normal and as realistic as possible, yet Rylance manages to do so in a very impressive and subtle way.
Not only are his words fantastic but his performance is as well. He plays Ron, the best friend and sidekick to Jim Lichtscheidl’s Erik, who is constantly causing mischief and trying his best to entertain his friend. He is funny and very goofy, but totally loveable and Rylance’s performance is hilariously realistic. Jim Lichtscheidl gives a brilliant performance in contrast as Erik who is constantly level-headed and rational despite some darker secrets of his that are revealed throughout the play. Together, they make the perfect team and make this good play on paper into something great on stage.
Todd Rosenthal and Ilona Somogyi do a fantastic job of building this ice lake-world in the most realistic way possible recreating outfits and settings that Rylance actually saw when he went to Minnesota to research (and rehearse!) this piece. Sarah Wright provides the puppetry work – a subtle artistic addition that is hilarious – and is the main thing that you leave the theatre talking about. The idea of setting the scene using puppets of the characters just living on the lake is genius and perfectly summarises the play’s “there are plenty of fish in the sea” attitude.
If you want to see a play this Winter that has heart, realism and a fantastic cast then Nice Fish at the Harold Pinter Theatre is the play for you; you’ll fall for it hook, line and sinker.
Review by Shaun Nolan.
At The Harold Pinter Theatre, London.
We have tickets for just £35 http://www.theatreperform.entstix.com/tickets/nice-fish