A fun fable about greed in ‘The Fisherman and His Wife’ at Adventure Theatre MTC

Based on a Brothers Grimm tale, the imaginative show is a great family outing.

Adventure Theatre MTC presents The Fisherman and His Wife, based on the story by The Brothers Grimm and adapted by Claudia Haas. Tyler Herman directs this fun little production; and with an important moral at its center, it proves to be a great choice for a family outing.

Scenic Designer Dom Ocampo sets the stage in an imaginative way: fairly plain at first, the set begins to unfold (literally) with the plot, much like a pop-up book for the stage. What begins as a simple, barren hovel literally becomes a castle after a series of clever, quick tricks. Technical Director Jacob Pendland, alongside Lighting Designer Cody James and Sound Designer Aria Velz, keeps the atmosphere fairly simple and steady—there are no grand-scale or high-tech effects, but they’re not needed or missed. Costume Designer Paris Francesca does a good job with the wardrobe as well, needing to up the ante as the characters go from living within humble means to literal royalty. The technical elements of this production are clear, concise, and professional.

Jacob Yeh as Scat and Jared H. Graham as Jonner in ‘The Fisherman and His Wife.’ Photo by Alan Kayanan.

Jared H. Graham is Jonner, a poor but content fisherman who brings his new wife, Maura, home to a small, barren hut. Maura (Leah Packer) tries to be a good sport but can’t hide her disappointment when she discovers that they don’t even have a bed, just a pallet of straw on the floor. When Jonner goes fishing the next day, he’s lucky enough to catch an enchanted fish named Scat (Jacob Yeh at my performance), who becomes indebted to him after being freed. Maura asks Jonner to ask the fish for a comfortable, modest home, and really, who could begrudge her that? The fish grants her reasonable wish, but that starts a slippery slope where she finds herself wanting more and more and sends Jonner out with ever grander requests. Is enough ever enough? What happens when you’ve finally asked too much of someone?

Leah Packer as Maura and Jared H. Graham as Jonner in ‘The Fisherman and His Wife.’ Photo by Alan Kayanan.

The actors do a great job with their roles, especially Yeh, who’s put a friendly, jazzy spin on the fish’s character. There is a lot of audience interaction in this production, from Scat asking the kids to create “waves” with their arms so that he may swim better, to asking the audience for advice and votes on how to proceed. The kids all seem to have a great time shouting out suggestions to the characters. In one memorable moment, Jonner asks the audience if he should go back to the fish for the fifth or sixth time to ask for another favor (his wife was given a grand manor, but now she wants a castle), and a lot of them scream out a very firm, confident “NO!”

The Fisherman and His Wife is straightforward and fun, but it’s also a great opportunity to begin a conversation with your kids about some key moral quandaries. Shouldn’t we try to be content with what we have? At what point does one go from reasonable to downright greedy? This is an important conversation, especially if your child is in the dreaded “gimmie gimme” phase. A trip to Adventure Theatre MTC—nestled in the charming Glen Echo Park and just steps away from a truly impressive carousel—is just one part of a fun, full, and memorable afternoon for the family!

Running Time: Approximately 60 minutes without an intermission.

The Fisherman and His Wife plays through August 6, 2023, at Adventure Theatre MTC, 7300 MacArthur Blvd, Glen Echo, MD. For tickets (general admission, $20.50), call the box office at (301) 634-2270, or purchase them online. 

Recommended for all ages.

COVID Safety: Masking is optional and disposable masks are available for anyone requiring one.

The Fisherman and His Wife
Adapted by Claudia Haas
Directed by Tyler Herman
Based on the story by The Brothers Grimm


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