Like a Fishbone presented by EarlyWorx in theatre and art – Higher Ground East – 2.5K

A word of caution – this show is not located at the traditional Higher Ground venue near Hindley Street and Morphett Street – instead, as I discovered much to my despair twenty minutes and a long sprint before the show started, the new venue Higher Ground East is at 188 Grenfell Street, almost at East Terrace. An incredibly funky and already very popular venue which incorporates various bars and was absolutely packed by 7.30 on the opening night of the 2013 Adelaide Fringe, this was a slight downfall for the intensely serious and personal theatre performance of Like a Fishbone, as the taut atmosphere required for the play was nearly destroyed due to the incongruous laughter and clinking of glass coming from downstairs. Although the performers did an excellent job of disregarding these external influences, it has to be said that it killed the vibe a little.
Anthony Weigh’s Like a Fishbone is indeed an intense play. Focussing only two central characters – a devoutly Christian mother who is grieving the loss of her child and an architect who has been commissioned to design a memorial to commemorate those lost in the tragedy which stole the other mother’s daughter – with occasional intervention by the architect’s eager young assistant, the piece revolves around the clash of these two diametrically opposed women and the things that give meaning to their lives.

It is impossible to deny that the play is full of pathos and real emotion. Unfortunately, the characters are far too clichéd and stereotyped, and the play is thereby rendered predictable and, more importantly, it is difficult to connect with the characters on any deeper level as they are, effectively, well-known caricatures. This prevented me from being taken inside myself and personally connecting with the play. Even the eager young assistant, played ably by Rebecca Calandro, who was supposed to provide the voice of reason and the middle-ground between the two older women, instead served only to dilute the emotion further.
Moreover, Like a Fishbone attempts to grapple with too many enormous issues – religion, motherhood, the nature of womanhood, societal reactions to tragedy, to name but a few – in one short hour for any of them to be properly explored.
Nonetheless, the play was well acted. In particular, Amy Victoria Brooks playing the dogmatic bereaved mother was a stand-out, while Shannon Mackowski performed capably as the architect, notwithstanding that she was significantly constrained in her one-dimensional role as a corporate drone.
If you enjoy thought-provoking theatre which sets the seed in your mind for deeper thought long after you have left the venue, then this is the play for you.

Kryztoff Rating: 2.5K


  1. Perhaps, as a reviewer, you should have known where the play was being performed.

    1. Totally agree. The only purpose of including that comment is in order to ensure potential audience members are aware that there are now two Higher Ground venues.

      1. Higher Ground East, is the only Higher Ground venue for this years fringe.

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