A band of millennials and social anxiety – hark the plague of the 21st Century.
Kai Coffee shop poses a lovely setting; in the middle of Harmony, a brand new suburb on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast. In all of its ‘newness’ and in a suburb that can’t possibly live up to its name (well, perhaps in the coffee shop), it was an apt venue for a play looking at anxiety in our modern society.
Dr Fish, played by experienced actor Peta Beattie, engaged with the arrivals encouraging them to partake of activities on the verandah. These entailed putting down thoughts and feelings on to paper and playing quoits, a traditional simple game harking back to the 19th century. Such modest unpretentious fun served a fitting juxtaposition to the context of the play.
Fish out of Water, written and directed by Hayley Condon, is a group counselling session with a difference. In the play, Dr Fish hosts a young group of anxious people not knowing how to voice their reasons for being there or knowing what they want out of it. Three characters are introduced, Remmy, the loud overexuberant, played by Jacob Shannon; Slick, the clumsy ‘can’t do anything right’, played by Alaxzandra Allen; and Axel, the phone hugging, social media loving introvert who fears normal socialisation, played by Cooper Harlum.
Dr Fish asked the group participants to speak about their experiences, inner thoughts and fears. The play could easily have been longer with more padding out and exploration of the characters. I would have liked to see a ‘second session’ where some emerged stronger and less fearful. Dr Fish was a delightful character who had some great lines. Ms Beattie embraced the role and her strong improvisation skills were evident. All of the young actors performed well in their respective roles with Cooper Harlum displaying a particularly sensitive performance.
Each of the characters portrayed traits the audience could relate to either in themselves or someone they knew. So true, so real, so now; Fish out of Water is a timely commentary on the 21st century plague of social anxiety. More coffee anyone?
So, when you feel anxiety grip you, in the words of Hayley Condon, ‘remember 1, 2, 3 – breathe…….’
Fish out of Water held performances at Kai Coffee Harmony at Harmony on 19 and 26 May and this show has now finished.