Review: LITTLE FISH at Kokandy Productions

Review: LITTLE FISH at Kokandy Productions

Pictured (l-r): Aja Wiltshire, Curtis Bannister, Kyrie Courter, Adam Fane, Nicole Laurenzi, Teressa LaGamba, Jeff Meyer and Carl Herzog. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

By Erin Shea Brady

What happens when we put down our vices and just sit for a minute in our discomfort? What can we learn? Who can we be? We encounter old shame gremlins, new insecurities, the pain of the people we love. Whether the vice is our busy schedule, our drug/drink of choice or our favorite guilty pleasure binge-watch, we all deal with the impulse to numb our fear and uncertainty. It’s not big and sexy and dramatic to talk about, but it’s a vital conversation. In an era of shock value and fast-paced, high-drama storytelling, Michael John LaChiusa’s LITTLE FISH is a refreshingly thoughtful, nuanced and contemplative portrait of a woman trying to live one moment at a time.

Charlotte (Nicole Laurenzi) is a thirty-something, New York-based writer who is desperately trying to quit smoking. Haunted by the words of her robe-wearing, academic ex-boyfriend (a strong performance by Jeff Meyer), Charlotte works to figure out who she is if she’s not a smoker. Is she a runner? A swimmer? Is she funny? Under Artistic Director Alison Hendrix’ direction, Charlotte’s quest is poignant and engaging, and evades the trap of self-indulgence.

It’s a beautifully cast ensemble. Each actor is showcased, each character is richly developed. This is, in part, due to masterful music direction of Kory Danielson. We get a real sense of who these people are, how they move through the world —- specifically, New York. Kyrie Courter’s light, lovely soprano is in stark contrast to Teressa LaGamba’s bold, singular belt — both powerful in the way that is needed to forward the story in the moment.

Hendrix uses the space extremely well. Arnel Sancianco’s scenic design and lighting by Alexander Ridgers are equally suited to the pool at the Y and a NYC hangout with friends and a bottle of wine.

I so appreciated Kokandy’s choice to produce this piece. It’s not big and loud, but it’s very human and very affecting.

LITTLE FISH runs through August 20th. For more information visit

About author

Erin Shea Brady

Erin Shea Brady is a contributing writer and critic at PerformInk and Newcity Stage. Directing credits include: Everybody (Brown Paper Box Co.) and Cabaret, Annapurna (staged reading) and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (No Stakes Theater Project). Erin has assistant directed and dramaturged productions at the Goodman, Jackalope, TimeLine, A Red Orchid, Northlight, and Remy Bumppo. Erin is a graduate of the directing program at Columbia College Chicago, the internship program at Steppenwolf, Jackalope's inaugural Playwright's Lab, and participated in the Goodman's Criticism in a Changing America bootcamp. Erin is a company member with Brown Paper Box Co. and is currently pursuing her MSW at Loyola.