OK, so it’s not Les Mis. But one has to be in the mood for Les Mis. We were in the mood for quirky, neurotic humor and those who dish it out. So we went to see Fish in the Dark.
If you’re not familiar with Larry David, and have a sense of humor that finds jolly in the midst of the everyday, you should be. He’s the guy that co-produced Seinfeld, where George Costanza is the stand in for the real Larry David. If you have access, you can also find him in the flesh on Curb Your Enthusiasm, which ran for several seasons on HBO. But back to the play.
Who knew dying could be so funny? Well, it’s the dynamics of the family personalities that bring it all to life, as Jason Alexander(who played George Costanza) plays the lead—the son of a dying older man. As loved ones gather together to pay respects, secrets, wishes, hopes, dreams and interpersonal relationships come to life, leaving you laughing, yes laughing at the ridiculousness of family drama.
But it’s more than that. It’s tradition—a Jewish family who can say things only a Jewish family can say brings it all home for me—a girl who grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. Why did the daughter-in-law serve fish in the dark? I mean the father almost choked on it—who would do such a thing? Thus the name of the play and part of the angst of mother-in-law vs. daughter-in-law. But that’s just for starters. Friends say a Rolex was promised to them. The dying father is visited by his very ‘hot’ son’s girlfriend. Later to find out, he has fondled her breasts in his last moments. A brother is very hands-off, leaving Jason Alexander to take care of his mother and her estate by herself. Then the maid reveals that the father had indeed ‘fathered’ a son with her, as she looks for some payoff to help her son go to college. It’s a comedy of errors, and Jason Alexander is wonderful.
One of the negative remarks I heard was that it was so much like Seinfeld. Well, as one who watches reruns on a regular basis, I was happy to fight the NYC traffic and sit next to one very large man, in order to chuckle (a la Seinfeld) for two hours. I highly recommend it.