How to Drown a Fish

Grace Gibson parades awkwardly across the stage in her brightly coloured leotards, she is about to share with us her experience of public failure, inviting us to revel in that moment with her. How To Drown A Fish is a series of comedic speeches and cheesy routines at a children's dance competition. The stage floor is empty apart from a microphone upon a stand, a CD/Cassette player, and a toolbox. Hanging from the ceiling on pieces of thread are five balloons heavy with water, generating a growing feeling of risk.

This is a show about the horror and humiliation in the moment of public failure, but also the beauty and the vulnerability that reveals itself in those moments too.​

The music crackles as the cheeky, wide eyed, hair-sprayed and permanently smiling Grace Gibson slides across the stage with her jazz routine, and the audience sense her desperation to impress. In moments she is composed, in others jerking fiercely, and the audience watch in horror as she frantically mops the water soaked floor with her hair. The overlapping of teachers instructions and steps perfectly illustrates the struggle of the girlhood dance classes, the discipline and need to be perfect.

After apologies to the audience for letting down the show, it is impossible to forget the image of her standing there with wet hair matted over her face as she begins to eat the paper from which she read her speech. This is clearly a show with a lot of heart, and Gibson is very generous in sharing hers. At times it is easy to get lost in where we were in the piece and what Gibson was trying to do, but by the time we reached the end and see the first dance routine repeated by a projected video of Gibson as a little girl - we come full circle. This is a show about the horror and humiliation in the moment of public failure, but also the beauty and the vulnerability that reveals itself in those moments too.

Reviews by Isabella Javor

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Offstage a cassette is taken out of its box and put into the player. The music crackles and she bounds on to stage. With hairspray in her saliva, she dances on an uneven floor. The air is wet, her hair drips. She is drowning in a moment. Unpacking personal experiences involving children’s dance competitions, How to Drown a Fish dissects the point when it all goes wrong. Inspired by a moment of failure, we watch a girl with a hairspray-fixed smile do her best to stay afloat. Supported by Camden People's Theatre.

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