Skip to content


Something Fishy
Published on Friday, 20 July 2012

5 starsUnderground Venues, Theatre
19 Jul, 4:45pm-5:45pm; 20 Jul, 6:00pm-7:00pm; 21-22 Jul, 1:30pm-2:30pm
Reviewed by Ian Hamilton

‘Your mother should know’, intones Macca at the beginning – and after three previous Fringe shows you would have thought that Ruth might, indeed, know by now.  But she stumbles along in the same way as last year, as writer and actor Ginny Davis endures the trials of motherhood in this hilarious and instantly-recognisable depiction of family mores.

Following on from last year’s Double Booked, Ruth is again at odds with the various members of her family and associated characters.  We find her arguing with her son Fred, the all-too recognisable teenager for whom the world is, well, boring; Ellie, her daughter trapped in the tunnel of adolescence; friend Tim’s vacuous yummy mummy; and her own feckless husband.  Ruth is at the centre of everything, as she tries to juggle all aspects of Guardian-reading middle-class life.

According to the plot, son Fred is banned from school trips so severely that he can only participate if his mother chaperones him – at best a dubious arrangement.  She, in turn, contrives to invite Tim’s mum along. Tim is Fred’s best friend and worst influence, and his mum is a glamorous but empty-headed flirt with whom Ruth has history – you might have thought she would have known better.  Like the dictionary, they’re Morocco-bound, with two teachers accompanying the trip: a smarmy Lothario who’s an ex to both ladies, and control freak Mrs Dobbs. It’s a disaster waiting to happen… oh, and she leaves clueless daughter Ellie home alone, sort of.

Davis plays all these characters, and it’s sometimes hard to believe we are watching just one actor on stage.  The panicky, over-fussy mother will be familiar to many, as will the grunting, monosyllabic son and the sarcastic daughter.  The facial expressions and intonation – “whatever!” – suggest Davis has spent rather too much time studying teenage behaviour in the local comprehensive.  The useless husband is effectively if briefly portrayed, while Tim’s bitchy and superficial mum is brought to life by inane comments and over the top body language.  Brief cameos include a very realistic Moroccan street vendor… and a personal favourite, Ruth’s batty and hard-of-hearing Welsh mother.

The pace stays swift, and the passage from one character to the next is seamless.  The set looks appropriately middle-English, with gaudy wraps and sofa covers, and incidental music is well-chosen for the topic.  The writing is sharp, with many memorable turns of phrase – Tim’s mum, for example, can cause the maximum offence with the minimum effort (how sad that one is unable to choose the parents of one’s friends!)  Capping it all, the surprise ending neatly brings together several threads running through the story.

The whole experience is a little like a column written in a worthy newspaper by Bridget Jones, confronting a MILF, all seen through the eyes of Adrian Mole… but I mean that comparison in an entirely positive way.  The story seems likely to run and run, and I recommend that you witness it as soon as you can.  All aboard the train!

<< Shyness is Nice   Caimh McDonnell: The Art ... >>


These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.