Review: The Way of All Fish/Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet (Kourage Theatre, Cric Crac Collective & Crazy Folk Productions)

Elva Mai Hoover and Tracy RankinA quirky, charming evening at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre with a fishy double-bill

From a push up challenge between a self-absorbed executive and her devoted secretary to an aging store clerk playing footie with a doctor, the double bill featuring The Way of All Fish and Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet, did not disappoint. Watching the comedic intriguing actors embody their respective characters was truly a wonderful way to spend a summer evening at the intimate Tarragon Theatre Extra Space.

I’ll be honest. Having read only a short synopsis on the double bill production, I went in with minimal expectation. I let my imagination go wild while I guessed what the intent was behind each play based on their chosen titles. Does the way of the fish have something to do with the analogy ‘there is plenty of fish in the sea?’ Or how exactly is Miss Fozzard going to find her feet? With that being said, going in to the theater with minimal expectation made the experience of watching the plays all the more enjoyable and intriguing.

The evening began withThe Way of All Fish, a hilarious well-written play by Elaine May. The show had me from the moment executive Ms. Asquith (played by Elva Mai Hoover) calls out to her secretary Miss Riverton (played by Tracy Rankin) in frustration and accuses her for throwing her exercise band in the trash can.

The play quickly gets right into the meat of things when both women find themselves having an intimate dinner together over a couple a bottles of wine. Now they say that alcohol is known for being a truth serum and in this case, it was absolutely true. The two somewhat over-the-top dramatic women from two different worlds begin to quickly open up in ways that were unexpected.

Miss Riverton opens up about doing what it takes to achieve fame and significance. What exactly could that mean? This is where the tables turn and fear arises. The background horror-like music began as the power struggle between both women increasingly intensified. At times I felt like I was watching a live murder mystery dinner except we knew who the potential murderer was. Or did we? In fact, was there even a murderer? You’ll just have to watch it to see.

The Way of All Fish was witty in all the right places. I simply loved the cat and mouse chase between the two lonely women and was intrigued to see who would come out of this chase a winner. At the end, the only thing that could have made this show even better is if the audience received their own plate of sushi dinner, a glass of wine and the opportunity to join in on the power struggle chase.

As I walked into the theatre after intermission to see Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet(featuring multitalented actor Nonnie Griffen), I was definitely intrigued by the line-up of shoes at the edge of the stage and as a woman, secretly wanted to try a few on!

Just like the name, Miss Fozzard is a bit of bizarre character and the people in her life seem just as bizarre and quirky. In this one-woman show, Griffen has a strong presence on stage but I did find it challenging initially in understanding what she was saying. There were moments when the tone of voice would soften making it hard to hear what character she was referring to.

Eventually however, I began to see the story unfold as the characters became more pronounced. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Miss Fozzard and the doctor with a foot fetish. There was something strangely funny yet eerie about the man who adored Miss Fozzard feet. Griffen played the different characters well and it was truly captivating to see her move from one character to another. I was taken by the relationship of Miss Fozzard and the doctor that I found myself moving my own feet under the chair.

The pace of Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet was steady but didn’t really climax and leave me on the edge of my seat. Some of the written text was very clever particularly at the end when Miss Fozzard ‘skirts around the word’ and holds up her sexy red shoes. Overall, this foot fetish fantasy was flirtatious and fun!

If you are looking for an evening of good soulful laughter, then this double bill is a must see. The acting is brilliant and you just can’t go wrong with watching two shows for the price of one!

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Photo of Elva Mai Hoover and Tracy Rankin by Shy