As you enter the intimate space that is the Attic in Pleasance Courtyard, the crazed looks on the actresses’ faces, combined with their amusing bespoke aquatic dance moves, suggest that the next hour is going to be a far-from-serious show. That, and the swim hats and goggles on their heads. Oh, and the swim socks and jelly shoes. While all the signs point to it being a nonsensical comedy, Goggles proves to also be a poignant and carefully thought-out play, filled with hilarious moments that will leave you gasping for air.
Josie and Gemma, two socially awkward outcasts, are old childhood friends. As they explain to the audience, they are here at the Fringe to remember the lives of their (now dead) goldfish, Sunny and Boo. However, as they try to perform their show, things begin to go awry, as cracks in their relationship gradually begin to appear. Feelings of detachment, miscommunication between them both, and the need for independence reveal that they too are trapped in a fishbowl of their own, and Gemma wants out. The growing tension between the two girls leads some very funny moments, albeit incredulous at times (Gemma’s spotlight observances are genius, though leave her as even more of an enigma to the audience). Thankfully, the play ends on a positive note, though not without a loud, melodramatic, mic-dropping climax that shows even the happiest of people can have a dark side within them.
The set of Goggles is bare, with only a blue light and underwater sound effects to represent the lives of Sunny and Boo inside the fishbowl, as Gemma and Josie imagine their thoughts and feelings. However, the simplicity of it all only allows for Josie and Gemma to shine even more. Their imaginings of the conversations between Sunny and Boo may seem random, but deep down reveal the love that these two girls have for one another. It also reveals how their goldfish have become a talisman for their friendship, one that Josie is afraid to lose.
The dynamic between these two actresses is one that cannot be taught; the way in which they interact with one another is effortless. Josie’s energy is infectious, and her childlike excitement with the world makes you wish you were that optimistic, though perhaps not as borderline psychotic as she gets towards the end. Gemma’s reserved and queer nature compliments Josie’s own; kindred spirits, their pairing at a school trip to an art gallery feels like fate. Their innocent, immature humour is charming, and while it is difficult at times to tell what age they are meant to be as the play jumps back and forth in time, it doesn’t feel important anyway. The inception-style meta aspect of Goggles, again, leaves you wondering what is “scripted” and what isn’t, yet the way in which the plays comes full circle gives it a solid structure that many Fringe shows can only crave. There is also a unique spontaneity to the action, including a staring contest that will make your eyes water as much as their eyes dry up.
Not one to overlook, Goggles is a show that is quirky, clever and consistent throughout. Josie and Gemma are a delight to watch on stage, and ThisEgg are undoubtedly a company to keep a lookout for. As the play comes to a close, the charming and touching message of Goggles will make you feel very happy to have experienced Josie and Gemma’s world, even if only an hour, and been inside their beautiful bubble.
Pleasance Courtyard Attic, 17-29th August
Tickets available at: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/goggles
Image: Greta Mitchell