The stage of the Proscenium Theater has been quite effectively transformed into a frozen lake by set designer Todd Rosenthal. A bare glassy surface with wisps of snow strewn about and a backdrop of a distant shore are all that adorn the stage when the play begins. It perfectly captures the stark beauty of winter. Later, complex fishing equipment is brought out, including a tent, a fish house with sauna, a vintage snowmobile, and neon palm trees - just your typical Minnesota winter scene. The visual delights continue with twinkling stars, objects that fly or float across the ice, and a delightful battle with the wind.
|a typical Minnesota scene: two friends ice fishing|
(Mark Rylance and Jim Lichtscheidl)
Erik and Ron have a few visitors out there on the ice. First, a DNR officer (a hilariously stern Bob Davis) wants to make sure they have their licenses in order, which of course they don't. Later, they run into a strange young woman named Flo (a charmingly spacey Emily Swallow), her brute of a boyfriend (a long-haired and imposing Chris Carlson), and his brother (Tyson Forbes, tall and silent). These three characters are odd, not of this cold and stoic state of Minnesota. They represent gods of Nordic mythology, and strange and wonderful things happen. There's music, dancing, and hockey. As the play ends, Ron and Erik transform into something else, and something else again. One of the characters says, "Old people leave this life like a movie - I didn't get it!" That's a little how I felt leaving the theater - I didn't quite get all of it, but it was a marvelous experience.
Nice Fish continues at the Guthrie through May 18 (which is probably about the time the ice will be gone from Minnesota's 10,000 or so lakes). Go see it, and bring your favorite fisherperson.