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Mark Rylance stars in self-penned play


Actor opens his adaptation of Louis Jenkins's Nice Fish poems in Minneapolis, in which two ice fishermen contemplate life, dogs and lost watches

Mark Rylance, one of British theatre's biggest stars, has opened his self-penned play in Minneapolis.

The double Olivier award-winning actor stars in Nice Fish, which he co-wrote with the American poet Louis Jenkins, whose work he has twice recited in place of acceptance speeches at the Tony awards. As if that wasn't enough, Rylance has also co-directed the piece with his wife Claire van Kampen.

Nice Fish is a theatrical adaptation of Jenkins's poems from a collection of the same name, around which Rylance has constructed a narrative superstructure of two ice fishermen, Ron and Erik, meditating on life while waiting for something to bite beneath the frozen surface. Among the subjects up for discussion are the differences between dogs and wolves, and lost wristwatches.

It marks the actor's fourth appearance at the Guthrie theatre, one of America's most notable venues for new writing and innovative classics. Having transferred two performances from Shakespeare's Globe – Olivia in the all-male Twelfth Night and Vincentio in Measure for Measure– Rylance played Peer Gynt there in 2008, a critically acclaimed performance that UK audiences have not had the opportunity to see.

Early reviews have been mixed. One described it as "a nice, big hit … fanciful, imaginative and thoughtful", while another argued that, despite a "constrained and universal" performance from Rylance, the play "doesn't justify it's two-and-a-half-hour running time". Rylance has turned playwright before, with his dramatic take on the Shakespeare authorship debate I Am Shakespeare, which premiered at the Chichester Festival theatre in 2007, and an adaptation of Thomas Dekker's complex play The Honest Whore for Shakespeare's Globe in 1998, when he was the theatre's artistic director.

Nice Fish is dedicated to Rylance's stepdaughter Nataasha van Kampen, who passed away last July, leading him to pull out of the Olympics opening ceremony, and to the American psychologist James Hillman, who died in 2011.

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