Send in the Clowns

Review of Goldfish, Yale Repertory Theatre No Boundaries Series

Viewers expecting the bare stage typical of a dance troupe may be surprised by the prop room-like setting of Goldfish, a touring show by The Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company at Yale Repertory Theatre. The choreography of this 60 minute show is precise and often set to music, but it’s a choreography that features clowning and manipulating objects and costumes more than interpretive dance routines. Zvi Fishzon and Ella Rothschild are a white-clad couple who display a bizarre array of tics amid the give and take of what seems a domestic world—tea cups are heavily featured, and a box that recalls a TV set, except that it houses Noga Harmelin’s screaming head.

Early on, one has the sense that we are watching the animation of a costumes wardrobe, as a pair of legs sticks out from a rack of white clothes to dance in the air and to be washed by attendants. That sense becomes more definite late in the show when Harmelin performs an erratic dance in an outfit still upon its hanger. The routine has the look of a puppet controlling its own movements. Indeed, the relation between movement of one’s own volition and movement as a result of another’s actions plays out in interesting ways in many of the routines. The degree to which any relationship—between adults, between parents and child, between humans and pets, and so on—is primarily “about” action and reaction is key to much of what occurs here. The show’s title is meant to make us think of how circumscribed our own habits are, like goldfish in our little bowls.

 Zvi Fishzon, Ella Rothschild in Goldfish

Zvi Fishzon, Ella Rothschild in Goldfish

Setting up the show, and providing its visual climax, is the role of Avshalom Pollak, in baggy black with a comic mime’s ability to convey emotional cruxes with a glance, a frown, a lifted eyebrow. At times he seems to be only a spectator, off to the side of the stage, but his reactions at other times are more interactive.

The poetic and comic dimensions of the show are unlikely to strike any two viewers alike. The effects play upon the poetics of gesture, and the way that costuming and attitude and body language can communicate volumes. The music is mostly “old time,” which gives the show the air of vaudeville and of Big Band era romanticism. The Chaplinesque feel of some of the movements recalls silent film comedy, but placed in a more surreal context, where, for instance, an ostrich can emerge from the rack as easily as a maid or butler. Sound effects are also an important element of the whole, as Pollak sets the stage early for intense listening as he reacts to sounds in the theater and imitates bird calls.

A collection of mysterious and inventive humoresques, Goldfish is a theater of visual effects, rich in implication and suggestion, delightful in its odd surprises and jaunty grace.

 

Goldfish
Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company

Choreography: Inbal Pinto, Avshalom Pollak; Scenic and Costume Design: Inbal Pinto, Avshalom Pollak; Sound Design: Asaf Ashkenazy; Master Carpenter: Gilad Banneau; Tour Manager: Ofer Lachish

Performers: Zvi Fishzon, Noga Harmelin, Avshalom Pollak, Ella Rothschild

Yale Repertory Theatre
October 28 & 29, 2016