In Blowfish, roommates Patrick and Brian find themselves in a paralyzing conundrum when, the morning after a night of getting black-out drunk, they find the body of a dead girl stuffed in their fridge. The piece unfolds in real time, giving the audience a gut-wrenching sense of what Patrick and Brian experience as possible murderers: their shock, guilt and subsequent attempts to piece the crime together. Frantically the friends conspire, blame and argue over what to do with the body, which lies motionless in the middle of the room for the duration of the play, a reminder of the mystery that lies at the heart of Blowfish.
A traditional proscenium play, the darkly comedic Blowfish examines the fight-or-flight response when faced with overwhelming fear. Patrick and Brian defensively “puff up,” like a blowfish expanding its stomach, to protect themselves. The two friends blame and poke at each other, slowly making not only the crime scene, but their friendship, more toxic, and the puzzle of the dead body on the floor more unmanageable. As time ticks by, the more embroiled they become.
While not fully immersive, Blowfish incorporates several opportunities for audience participation for guests who choose to sit pre-determined red-marked chairs. The actors directly involve the audience in the action by having them hold or handle objects, but the audience is not given the agency to influence the events of the story. The audience is mainly detached from the proceedings, outside looking in, but become more invested the longer the men flounder in the situation.
The nightmare that Brian and Patrick endure is amplified and permeates the space thanks to the impressive and relatable acting and real-time straight-forwardness. Since the actors – and the dead body – are on stage for the entire show, the characters get no repose from the situation, and neither does the audience as we are forced to look on helplessly. The acting and writing sell Blowfish beautifully; the characters are relatable, their actions justifiable, and the story keeps the audience guessing throughout.
Blowfish is a clever and engaging production, gory but completely human and grounded. While immersive fans might leave wanting more agency or interactivity, fans of dark comedies and mysteries will be delighted and asking for seconds. With impressive acting, an intriguing premise, and a floor covered in blood, Blowfish is more fun than waking up to a dead body in your fridge.
Written and directed by Lucas Coleman, Blowfish runs through July 4th at the Lyric Hyperion Theatre. Buy tickets here.