Posts Tagged ‘The Memory of Water’

LIVE: The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company [GailSez]

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company (photo by Kevin Sprague)

The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company (photo by Kevin Sprague)

A stellar Equity cast, a seasoned director, and all the artistic back-up might (sets, costumes, lights, marketing, dialogue coaches, etc.) that a major regional venue like Shakespeare & Company can muster cannot save The Memory of Water from being three hours of unpleasant people screeching at each other. If the characters in a play don’t like each other, why should we like them?

There are only six characters in this play and I managed to muster a warm fuzzy feeling for just one, and I think that was because he was the quietest. The rest of them just wouldn’t shut up. Everyone had a long, painful story and everyone had a deep, dark secret which each divulged slowly, between bouts of screaming accusations at everyone else in the room. There was no focal point, no one you could really root for. If this had been a cocktail party, I would have left early.

What brings these characters – three adult sisters, Mary (Corinna May), Theresa (Kristin Wold), and Catherine (Elizabeth Aspenlieder), Theresa’s second and current husband, Frank (Jason Asprey), and Mary’s lover Mike (Nigel Gore) – into the same cramped quarters is the death of the sisters’ mother, Violet (Annette Miller). And being dead doesn’t prevent her from showing up either, although for some unknown reason she only interacts with Mary.

Click here to read the rest at GailSez.

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LIVE: The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011
The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company (photo by Kevin Sprague

The Memory of Water @ Shakespeare & Company (photo by Kevin Sprague

If it wasn’t so funny, I would have cringed watching this play about three sisters preparing to attend the funeral of their recently deceased mother. The Memory of Water at Shakespeare & Company relates how they have reunited for her service. In it they taken up residence in her old bedroom, rummage through her belongings, even trying on her hats and dresses before claiming them, or tossing them. Two men, a husband and a lover, attempt to keep the proceedings under control but with little success.

This is playwright Shelagh Stephenson’s first play written back in 1996, and her work has become a favorite of adventurous theatre companies throughout the English speaking world. It has aged well. Part of that is due to the rapid-fire situation comedy that permeates its core. The sisters use humor to cope with tragedy.

But there is plenty of tragedy here, mostly in the inability of the sisters to feel much of anything for their deceased mother, or each other. They talk at one another, not with each other. What results is an evening of theatre that is a little Checkhov, and a lot Neil Simon. There are lessons to be learned here, only it is not the three batty sisters that are getting smarter, it’s the audience, assuming they are introspective enough.

Click here to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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