October 26th, 2016 By Annelyse Miller
When asked who is his favorite character to play from his upcoming show Fish Dinner at Tipping Point Theatre, Quintin Hicks describes Hank Panky, “He’s just your typical old guy that has a lot of opinions. He’d take the shirt off his back to help someone out. He’s the old guy eating soup by himself.” Hicks continues, “to me he represents all of the male influences I grew up with, a compilation of everything you want to be when you grow older.”
In hearing Hicks describe this character, it is evident that each character is real to him. He truly becomes these different individuals he portrays. Quintin Hicks, if you aren’t familiar with his work has a reputation for amazing characterization. His ability to assume such complete characters has awed colleges, theatre and radio audiences and improv students for years. But this show isn’t just about his incredible ability to transform his voice or about wacky costume choices, it is about walking completely in the shoes and the lives of his characters.
As I listen to Quintin explain about this character’s first scene, I have a feel for who he is describing. I can see the character appear before my eyes. I know how he sits, how he looks, and the sound he makes when he slurps his soup. This is part of the magic of a Hicks’ performance. He not only wants to introduce you to these characters but he wants you to understand their stories and how they weave into your own.
“The name Fish Dinner is just a play off of family getting together for a meal. It is a variety of characters. Maybe they will remind you of someone in your family or someone you know,” Hicks explains. Since this is the fourth Fish Dinner incarnation both he and his director Dave Davies worked together to see which characters would be present at this “meal.” If you’ve attended previous Fish Dinners you’ll see some familiar characters and have a chance to check in on their current journey. Previous attendance is not necessary, Dave Davies assures, “Each Fish Dinner is always a story on to itself. They can stand up individually.”
The fact that there have been four incarnations of this unique one man show is due entirely to how well the shows have been received by audiences. “We are really proud of it and I think that we never set out to do the next one but each new show happens because people keep asking “when are you guys going to do the next one?”
Since the show is entirely character driven I was curious as to how they were created. Hicks explains that even if they are based on an actual person, once a character becomes apart of the show, “even if they started as an idea, from backstage bits, they took on a life of their own.” So how did these ideas, bits and actual people come together into fully flushed out characters? “Initially fifty percent were characters that I had played before. If there was a character that I wanted to do, if I had any preconceived ideas I would tell Dave, I’d improvise in front of Dave- riff and we’d both be crying from laughter. I could tell it would work if I could make him belly laugh,” Hicks shares.
It is evident that Quintin Hicks and Dave Davies make a good working pair. The two have worked together for over twenty years and both reiterate that their relationship works because they know exactly what they other is capable of accomplishing. Hicks states “I trust that he can get 110% out of me.”
Besides the sheer entertainment factor, Dave Davies lays out a compelling reason for improvisers to see the show– “If you are a student of improv in any way and you want to learn about character, do not miss this show. He runs the clinic up there.” This seems like enough of a draw for me, both as a fan of improv and storytelling. I can’t imagine having the chops to pull off such a feat–here is one man alone on stage embodying a huge range of characters and emotions. “There is really nothing like it,” Hicks explains about the combination of fear and adrenaline when performing a one man show like this. “There is no one else to rely on if something goes awry.” This response seems incredibly modest given the shows successful history.
The one man aspect aside, the show itself is one of a kind. As Dave Davies puts it, “Its a unique show. It’s approach walks the tight rope of being a full play and improv. I don’t know of any other show that does that.”
Quintin Hicks affirms this statement with a nod of his head and the comment “We take you places.” Not only does Hicks embody several characters but he gives them such depth that the show has lots of emotional turns and twists.
It is Dave Davies turn to echo Hicks, “ One thing about [the show] is that the characters he does, they are all based in reality to some degree, every character that he does it is like, I know a guy just like that. They are based on real people and this comes through in the story telling … You can recognize the humanity in every character.”
The show is so captivating because the audiences participation plays into the performances. How people react in the audience informs the show. This is an aspect of the show that Quintin seems to thrive on. How each performance can be so different and that he can play with the crowd and that energy more so than in a regular staged production. “I really love doing it, I enjoy playing to the audience.” This format allows him to “get up close and personal.” This show gives the depth and range of a scripted show along with the impromptu magic of an improvised set.
His musical accompaniment also aids in this endeavor. He is incredibly thankful for his accompanist for their contributions to the show. “Both of the musical accompanist I’ve used in past Fish Dinner shows really help make the show. I worked with both of them at Second City and they are so experienced. I felt so comfortable working with them. I know if I make a mistake they would have my back.”
So whether you are looking for some insight on how to improve your on stage characters, a break from your typical scripted show or you just want some memorable belly laughs, this is one show you just shouldn’t miss. I’ve even been told that it’s also great fun to see the same show twice just to see how Quintin Hicks changes it up from night to night based on the audience. Get your tickets soon, this is a very limited engagement that only runs this weekend. October 29th at 6pm and 8 pm and Sunday the 30th at 7 pm! Call Tipping Point Theatre’s box office.
Tipping Point Theatre
361 MI 48167