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On a stage within a stage, a ramshackle dreamscape surrounded on all sides by harsh reality, this play broke my heart into a million pieces – and made me grateful for it. A heartbreaking and heartfelt story by Richard Sydenham and Jamie Oxenbould told with incredible whimsy and childlike wonder.
Gods and Little Fishes is loosely based on the tragic murder of eight-year-old Graeme Thorne in June 1960, who was Australia’s first child kidnapped for ransom when his father Bazil Thorne won a fortune in the lottery. in the aftermath of his son’s death, Thorne is adrift at sea, struggling to come to terms with the grief and guilt he feels. With the help of a clown, a polar bear and a strongman, Bazil must find a way to face his new reality.
The writers make sure we know more than Thorne by incorporating threads of reality throughout the play. We come to understand the symbolism of the monster looming over him, the luggage he can’t open and the sleeping potion that becomes increasingly ineffective in his dream state. I really appreciated this approach as it allows the audience to focus on the journey of grief and healing rather than wondering what causes it; we invest in and empathise with Thorne as he struggles to come to grips with his son’s death.
Every cast member puts on a strong performance. Despite their obviously fantastical natures, the believability and chemistry of the trio of characters Bazil encounters while adrift at sea – the clown, the polar bear and the strongman – is excellent, their puns on point and their performance of absurdist theatre a masterclass in the genre. Jamie Oxenbuild as Bazil Thorne shows the inner turmoil of his character, the feeling that he’s not in the right place but also can’t or won’t quite find his way back in subtle but powerful ways, often simply not buying into the absurdist acts of his newfound friends or mimicking but not mirroring their actions so that we in the audience know he doesn’t belong.
Gods and Little Fishes is a unique and heartfelt story and a beautiful addition to the Aussie theatre scene.
Wine Pairing | Gewurztraminer
Gewurztraminer is a fruit-forward white wine with a distinctive taste of lychee, often in combination with other tropical fruits, rose petals and Turkish delight. It’s one of the more textural white wines due to the thick skin of the Gewurztraminer grape and can be made in dry or sweet form. It’s a whimsical wine of substance for a whimsical play of substance.
My Pick: Iron Pot Bay Vineyard, 2016 Gewurztraminer, Tamar Valley, TAS
Tassie is a great place to grow Gewurztraminer because it’s a cool climate, perfect for giving fruity wines like Gewurztraminer a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Iron Pot Bay is a mainstay of the Tamar Valley in the state’s north, and its Gewurztraminer has the lovely traditional lychee and Turkish delight plus a little bit of pepper.
|Aussie Season||31 May to 25 June, New Theatre, Newtown, Sydney|
|Writer||Richard Sydenham and Jamie Oxenbould|
|Theatre Type & Genre||Play, Theatre of the Absurd|
|See it if you like||Whimsy, Waiting for Godot, true crime|
|Other Info||Winner of the 2020 Silver Gull Play Award|
|Criteria for Wine Pairing||Tropical fruit flavours, textural wine|