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.