The show is balanced between performance art style dance, huge projections that engulf the entire back wall of The Stage, physical comedy, and poetic philosophical monologues on memory, the body, women, and trauma. Genoveva likes lots of things like jazz and old films, but the thing she loves most is fish flakes, a big part of her being a fish. It becomes clear as the show unfolds that these are metaphors, of course, for substance abuse and the feeling that happens to women who experience sexual assault and other trauma.
I appreciate the care I Know You, Fish has taken with it’s content. It’s slow to arise, is peeled back softly. Genoveva’s poem about how she is different facets of a house is easily one of my favourite moments of the show, the poetry building beautifully, showcasing anger and pain. The show, as revealed later, is autobiographical. I commend Reverte for having such courage and strength to turn her pain into a show exploring these events that have happened to her and many other women and non-binary people.
Reverte’s performance is delightful. Her clowning is funny yet graceful. Her tone is largely one note which works well for the jokes she tells, but I feel it restricts her emotionally. This may have been a directorial choice from Bella Petrie, but it stops me connecting with the character and the story even more. Perhaps the show needs to lean harder into the metaphor of being a fish and living in a fish world to help distance it from Reverte’s reality. Only time will tell.
I Know You, Fish is, in many ways, ridiculous and I am here for it. The physical vignettes build nicely, and the tech elements work well. Except when there are snap cuts with the lights and sound, which there are a lot, which feels jarring and at odds with the show. It is also frustrating when the lights and sound don’t cut at the same time, the sound often lagging by a second or so. It’s aspects like this that make the show feel unpolished, which does a disservice to the rest of the show. I hope these are simply part of opening night jitters and are fixed for the future shows.
I Know You, Fish ends in a positive way. A reframing of how Genoveva has been viewing her life thus far. This feels correct, but it also unbalances the show. When a show focuses 90% on horrible aspects of life, only to have it flip and the character seemingly accepts it in the final 10%, I tend not to leave with the 10% in mind. Like a friend who complains about their partner during your coffee date but ends with “But it’s all good, I’m fine, no need to worry about me.” I find it difficult to buy that the character has found solace in this newfound positivity which I do not believe were the intentions of Reverte or Petrie. While the final images of the show (home videos of energetic wee Genoveva) is a beautiful touch and a great way to end it, I would like the show to spend more time reconciling and moving past the trauma – something I don’t think is showcased very well in any media.
I Know You, Fish is a bizarre, ridiculous, touching, and overall a strong show about trauma which incorporates visual media as well as physical theatre in a way that serves the story.
I Know You, Fish is on at 6pm until Sunday, 27 February at BATS Theatre. Tickets available on the Fringe website.