FISH/WIFE written and directed by Rick Roberts, with Marjorie Campbell and Lindsay Collins. Presented by F/WC at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman). Runs to October 20, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $12.50-$15, Sunday pwyc. 416-531-1827. Rating: NNNN
Lucy and Ethel are alive and well in Rosedale, preparing gourmet finger food and spouting philosophy worthy of Samuel Beckett. Fish/Wife proves it. Rick Roberts's clever play, the winner of last summer's Fringe new-play contest and a festival hit, takes place in Gwen's (Lindsay Collins) kitchen as she starts to make her renowned sushi and secret sauce for offstage guests. When she's joined by lifelong friend -- and occasional catty detractor -- Joanne (Marjorie Campbell), the two try to quell their queasiness about the play's third character, a still-alive fish they intend to serve up to the gods of cocktail-party noshing.
Rooted equally in clown and existential absurdist theatre, the increasingly aware Gwen and shallow, insensitive Joanne are two of the most original stage characters we've seen in years. Collins and Campbell play them to perfection under Roberts's direction, knowing exactly how to spin out rhythms and underscore lines to comic effect.
A quirky tale of children, social niceties and the true course of evolution, Fish/Wife never flounders, from its thoughtful opening to its marvellously touching final image. Hook it soon.