Jofus and the Whale

Live shows have returned to La Mama, with Jofus and the Whale by Lily Fish (Fish and Twiner’s Bait Shop theatre company) opening at La Mama Courthouse on February 9 as part of Love Fest 2021.

Inspired by Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, this show is an energetic, engaging and endearing comedy about a person and a whale. And a fish. And some krill. And another person. And another character introduced later in the show. It’s light, it’s absurd, it’s creative, it’s physically expressive, and it’s cute AF. Performed by one person playing every part (and all the parts of every part, in the case of the whale), Jofus and the Whale relies entirely on physicality, lighting, the use of the space, and very skilled vocal effects to keep the audience entertained for an hour. There is no set and there are no costume changes, but every character and movement is still made so distinct from every other. The minimalistic yet appropriately engaging aesthetic of this work is a lovely showcase of things that are unique to (and are so enjoyable about) independent theatre.

Lily Fish, who plays Jofus and all the other parts, is delightfully clever and a gifted mime artist. Her energetic physicality, generously seasoned with bright facial expressions and versatile vocalizations, makes for a very pleasant entertainment experience. Her act is made of self-contained sequences involving loosely-related characters that are vaguely tied together into a story, but the story is not the focus as much as the individual sequences. There are many callbacks throughout the show, mostly all physical and always neatly executed. And so many poo jokes! The comedic style (which would appeal to anyone who is connected to their inner child) is amusing in itself, but doubly so because of how visibly amused Fish is with her own work. The audience cannot help but mirror her emotions throughout the show, which means there’s a solid vibe of smiling, wonder, playfulness, and childlikeness in the room.

The show is deep in a literal sense, much of it taking place in the depths of the ocean and inside the belly (and other interior parts) of a whale, but in all other senses it is light and easy to process. It’s lovely entertainment, and a refreshing break from real life.

Rating: ★★★★

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