Tom Wainwright is the play's protagonist. He tells a story, allegedly semi-autobiographical, of a man who finds himself pursued by a giant goldfish whilst walking the streets of Bristol. He takes refuge in a Tesco Metro, finds God and is beamed up into Heaven. He returns to earth only to find out that the goldfish is still pursuing him. Erm, yeah - that's the essential plot. This isn't really a story, more a surreal satire concerning the everyday person's indifference towards issues which extend beyond buying food in supermarkets and updating Iphones, and at failing to notice even the tiniest glimpse of the world behind the black curtains of consumerism. A live goldfish, excellently played by "125", swims solitarily in a bowl on the left hand side of the stage whilst all the action takes place, with the occasional image relating to whatever topic Wainwright is discussing flashing into it's bowl, in order to hammer the message in that tiny bit more.
And for the most part, it works! Simon Wainwright (no relation, the theatre program assures us), has done a fantastic job with the video and sound, a truly cutting edge melee of sound effects, contemporary music, cut-and-paste narratives and intense background music. Tom Wainwright helps bring it to life with some synching that could give a great deal of American chart singers a run for their money! The play's narrative is best desribed as fractured; anyone familiar with the cut up techniques employed by underground writers such as William Burroughs and Stewart Home will probably have a vague idea what I'm on about.
Although realtively fast-paced for a 75 minute production, the play does occasionally lose focus, meaning that riveting narrative passages attacking the working, middle and upper classes for their conceited indifferences towards momentous events occuring around them are sometimes followed by meandering stream-of-conciousness segments that hinder, rather than further, the play's progress. At the same time, however, there is always an eyecatching visual to gaze at in the fish bowl should the narration become tiresome, and there is the threat of an impromptu Moonwalk lurking over the production at all times. Okay, that's maybe a slight exaggeration, but then that's what this play is about. Without exaggeration, points of view, anger and revulsion, what are we left with? Indifference, fear and pig ignorance. Unwillingness to make a difference. Lethargy. Boredom. A.....well, you get the idea.
A brave, ambitious, at times moving and ultimately depressing 21st century production, Pedestrian is a visually and sonically astounding meditation upon modern times and ever rapid societal changes. Make sure you see it as soon as possible, as very soon its message may be lost for good. And that really would be a tragedy.