No Such Thing as a Fish
- Jay Richardson
- 21 March 2018
The QI-spawned quartet have an easy chemistry on the live stage
When QI spawned the spin-off podcast No Such Thing as a Fish four years ago, featuring the show's researchers impressing each other with surplus facts that couldn't be crammed into the television show, few would have predicted that it would become such a live draw.
Currently enjoying a third UK tour in ever more prestigious theatres, James Harkin, Andrew Hunter Murray, Anna Ptaszynski and Dan Schreiber have varying depths of performance experience. Notwithstanding Hunter Murray's bombastic return post-interval, as he desperately lobbies for the nickname 'Lightning', the quartet make little visual impact, with the set remaining an overwhelmingly audio experience. Yet the Fish retain an easy chemistry, taking patient turns in the spotlight, even as Schreiber tends to play both the host and regular butt of the others' condescension.
The touring production is split into two halves, with the first a semi-serious summary of the last year in its life, and the second an actual podcast recording. In-joke call-backs to the former are unlikely to make the edit but reinforce the sense of a unique night.
Local Glaswegian trivia is shared; Ptaszynski, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, makes the defence against the podcast being dismissed as interesting but useless, sharing some of its more unlikely survival tips; Hunter Murray keeps track of the more dubious snippets they've dispensed over the show's lifetime, while Schreiber explains the fiendish difficulty they have in verifying some facts, the wild west of the internet ensuring that some are simply ungoogleable.
With a nod to the late Stephen Hawking, one of tonight's podcast topics was black holes, along with the manufacture of jeans, Thomas Edison's light bulb, and disappearing currency. Well-prepared, the quartet's cross-talk of the unlikely-but-true has a pacy conversational flow. And while not every fact may tickle you, you can rest assured that something piquing your interest will be along soon enough.
No Such Thing as a Fish is on tour until Thursday 29 March. Reviewed at Citizens Theatre, Glasgow.