In a small French fishing village, a nun and her silent assistant keep the faith while keeping an eye on the coastal conditions. A storm arrives unexpectedly, and with it a most unusual catch – a traveller in need of shelter. He’s a fish out of water at first. One woman has no words and the other speaks in a language the stranger struggles to comprehend, but he soon finds himself drawn deeply into their unsettling routines.

Clockfire Theatre’s Emily Ayoub (the assistant) and Madeline Baghurst (the nun) trained at Jacques Lecoq theatre school in Paris and their superb skills in mime are well utilised. Together with co-performer Christopher Samuel Carroll as the floundering traveller, they create a world that straddles dream and reality – an absurdist comedy/folktale mash-up in which movement, sound and lighting design marry perfectly.

Passions swell, mirroring the rhythms of the sea, as the devout women and their guest sink further into their shared obsession with hooking an abundant catch in honour of the convent’s patron saint. It’s not giving too much away to say things get a bit out of hand as the trio overindulge in the blessed “soup divine”.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea – the performers create a world that straddles dream and reality. Photo: Geoff Magee

The show works on several layers. It’s apparently inspired by modern-day experiences of dating apps and the culture of brief “hook-up” liaisons, and this will be recognisable to those who’re familiar with that world. As a sexy romp through a fable with fantasy overtones, it’s a hit. It’s not hard to see why the show won three Sydney Fringe awards (Best in Theatre, Best in Physical Theatre and Circus, and the Festival Director’s Award).

The Gallery Theatre at the Migration Museum’s Courtyard of Curiosities is small (but cool and comfortable) and the stage barely fits the three pieces of furniture (bed, wardrobe, window frame) that make up the set, but this suits the work beautifully. We’re up close to the action, swept up in the strangeness and intensity.

If you’re after a Fringe experience that’s a sharp turn away from the mainstream, Plenty of Fish in the Sea is the show for you.

Plenty of Fish in the Sea is showing at The Gallery (in The Courtyard of Curiosities at the Migration Museum) until March 3.

Read more 2024 Adelaide Fringe coverage here on InReview.

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