Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

The Astonishing Singing Fish!

Text and music by Tice Oakfield, devised by Leo Elso and Tice Oakfield
Flying Dutchman Theatre
The Jack Studio Theatre

Leo Elso (left) and Tice Oakfield in The Astonishing Singing Fish! Credit: prints.brucewangphotography.co.uk

There have been double acts in entertainment since time immemorial but none come to mind that are as weird and wonderful as serial failure Peter Tourette and singing goldfish Alex.

Peter is a scientist whose experiment on a goldfish went wrong, as a result of which his subject learned to speak and the pair became best friends and moved in together.

Alex is one clever little fish and from watching the Olivier Awards on television he learns not only to sing but he develops a love of musical theatre. At a birthday visit to see Les Miserables, Alex learns the score.

With this shared passion and Alex’s fine baritone voice, the pair set off on a mission to get Alex on stage at London's Queen’s Theatre in the role of Javert. As Alex puts it, “if Russell Crowe can do it, so can I”.

The path of thespian aspiration of course does not run smooth and their journey is fraught with obstacles and rejection. It is also littered with theatre in-jokes and I particularly enjoyed the discussion about which of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s musicals is the worst.

As in all rise to stardom stories, and in true musical theatre comedy tradition, it is clear that Alex will make it to the West End stage and here there are plenty of laughs along the way as well as the obligatory bust-up.

It is possible to read into the narrative a message about not judging a fish by its appearance and acceptance of our differences—why can't Javert be small and orange?—but this show is about comedy and reaching the happy finale.

I can’t imagine what substance writers Leo Elso and Tice Oakfield were on when they wrote The Astonishing Singing Fish! but I would like some because it seems like fun.

Elso and Oakfield deliver their work with oodles of enthusiasm and its definitely time for Nemo to move over.

Both performers are full on energy (or substance?) and Oakfield's performance is notable for its singing and the range of emotional expressions that can be produced with just a face and two fins. Fish eaters may find themselves guiltily wondering what their dinner might have achieved had they let it live!

This isn't a polished work but do go and enjoy this bonkers show.

Reviewer: Sandra Giorgetti