Fringe 2019 Review: 'Fish Tales and Swan Songs'


A “fish tale” may be defined as an implausible, boastful falsehood, but there’s nothing dishonest or immodest about recognizing Joseph Swanberg and Rebecca Fisher as Orlando Fringe’s most beloved husband-and-wife performing team. This year’s revival of Fish Tales and Swan Songs, which originally debuted 15 years ago, is yet another swimming, soaring demonstration of the couple’s onstage charisma.

A loosely connected collection of feathered folk stories, fishy fables and fortune cookie wisdom, this eclectic cabaret features charming rod puppets, colorful video projections (by EdgeFactory), spoken word poetry and swinging musical standards – such as “Summertime” and “Dream a Little Dream” – that allow Swanberg’s comedic flair and Fisher’s soaring vocals to shine.

Under director Chad Lewis (whose husband, Jason Donnelly, provides amusing mute stage assistance), the tone swings from sweetly romantic to surreal. While it’s gentle and funny enough for the younger members of the family, there’s subversiveness under the surface to help adults stay engaged. I’m unsure I understood all the enigmatic epigrams and religious allusions, but the episodes with Swanberg and Fisher as an aging couple dealing with dementia grabbed my heart and squeezed hard. Let's hope this Swan Song is far from Becky and Joe's final bow.

[Full disclosure: I rented some video equipment to the production.]

Fish Tales & Swan Songs
BJ & CJ Productions
Orlando FL
BYOV - Black Venue
Ages 13 and up
60 minutes
Thursday, May 16th 9:00 PM
Friday, May 17th 9:00 PM
Saturday, May 18th 3:00 PM
Monday, May 20th 7:30 PM
Tuesday, May 21st 10:30 PM
Saturday, May 25th 6:00 PM
Sunday, May 26th 3:00 PM