Mokami Players staging an intriguing comedy

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Will compete in provincial drama festival

Sylvia (left) and Iris (right) try to have a conversation with the mysterious Mr. Lawrence, in this scene from Girl in the Goldfish Bowl.

Theatre fans in Happy Valley-Goose Bay are in for a treat with the Mokami Players’ latest production at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre.

“Girl in the Goldfish Bowl,” a Canadian play written by Morris Panych, will keep the audience guessing for themselves what the play is actually about.

“This is a dream play. It’s kind of like a Canadian version of a British farce,” said director and set designer Jamie Skidmore.

“It’s also very, very, clever; very funny and there’s lots of laughs.”

The production will be staged at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre for three nights, April 10-12, at 8 p.m.

The mystery, and comedy, begins when Iris (played by Iona Strachan) finds a rather strange man (played by Brian Earle) walking along the beach, soaking wet.

Iris brings the man, known only as Mr. Lawrence, back home to her parents Sylvia (played by Kate Adach) and Owen (played by Blair Brandon).

The man’s craziness intrigues Sylvia and infuriates Owen. But who is this man and where did he come from? That’s for the audience to decide for themselves.

“Is he a goldfish? Is he an insane lunatic escaped from an asylum?” asks Adach.

“Is he an amnesiac who can’t answer questions properly?”

Since the entire play is a dream world of the main character, Iris, the possibilities are endless.

“Iris is actually an adult, who comes back to the house where she grew up and these are all of her memories being played out on stage,” explains Skidmore.

Given the title of the play, and a clever set design by Skidmore, it’s even a possibility that all the characters are inside a fishbowl.

“Jamie, creatively, made a shape of a confined space, kind of like a goldfish bowl,” says Adach.

Each character in the play is so unique, that it adds to the quirkiness and laughter of the play.

Owen and Sylvia, for example, may be married, but they are quite opposites. Owen wants structure and order in his world, while Sylvia wants to break out of boring routines and do something exciting with her life.

“Owen is very much in love with Sylvia but that love may not be entirely reciprocated,” explains Brandon. “And so Owen spends a lot of energy trying to impose order on the world around him. And that comes out through this fascination that he has with geometry and architecture.”

“Sylvia is deeply depressed and anxious to get out of her home,” adds Adach. “She feels trapped and she desperately wants any escape or (add) any spice to her life.”

The character of Ms. Rose (played by Nadine Hillier) is a boozehound who spends much of her time at the Legion. She also boards with Owen and Sylvia, and has a major attraction to Owen.

“I’m very into my alcohol, I love my rye and ginger. I go to the Legion …” says Hillier.

“And I’m very much attracted to Owen. I pretty much do everything in my will to try and grab his attention.”

The actors have had fun developing their unique characters. Since nothing is literal, they have a lot of freedom to take their characters in a lot of different directions.

“It is a dream play, so the main character, Iris, is looking back, as an adult, on her childhood,” says Brandon. “And that gives us a bit of license to do some really wacky and fun things with it, because it’s not a literal world.”

Being in such a quirky, unique play has been a fun experience for the director and all the actors involved. But it’s been an especially wild ride for Adach and Hillier.

This is Adach’s first time acting in a play, besides doing some monologues in the past. The CBC journalist now has a whole new appreciation for the art of acting.

“I’ve learned a lot about the theatre and I have a whole new respect for actors and directors,” says Adach. “And I watch movies differently (now) and I know I will see theatre differently.”

For Hillier, this play represents a bit of a personal comeback for her. She fell in love with acting in high school. But, upon graduation got less and less involved. Now, after earning a surprise role in “Girl in the Goldfish Bowl,” she is grateful to be back into the acting scene.

“I was into it a lot when I was in high school. So I was involved for many years and kind of got out of it,” says Hillier.

“I auditioned with no hopes at all of getting a part, in all honesty, just to get myself back into the scene. And I ended up getting a part. So, I’m very excited.”

After completing their three-night run in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, the Mokami Players will be taking their production of “Girl in the Goldfish Bowl” to Stephenville, to compete in the provincial drama festival April 20-26.

Organizations: Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre, CBC

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Stephenville

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