Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Water

Created by Filter
Lyric Hammersmith Theatre
(2007)

Production photo

The Filter Company - three talented performers, each playing more than one role: Fredy Roberts, Ollie Dimsdale and Victoria Moseley (the Filter Company) - Andi Watson, Radiohead's Live Performance Creative Designer, together with David Farr, the artistic director of the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre, create 90 minutes of stimulating theatrical experience.

The title alludes to global ecological and political themes, yet the unfolding drama exposes bubbling tensions in the lives of individuals. The play operates on different narrative levels which comfortably co-exist and eventually merge. Against the bedrock of ecological and political substrata the play raises issues of human interaction, professional ambitions and what could have been love. All swim in a world almost void of the physical expression of emotions.

Peter Johns, a marine biologist, is based in Vancouver. A telephone call from Christ, a DJ in Vancouver, to Grahame, an Environment Officer in the UK, provides the backdrop to the play. They are half-brothers and their father, Peter Jones, has just died. The funeral is an excellent opportunity for them to get together. Grahame's journey and meeting with Christ brings the brothers geographically closer but exposes fundamental differences of each to their father's legacy and image.

The relationship between Claudia, a highflier in a governmental office, and Phil, a cave diver, creates another 'current' in the Water. Claudia's burning ambition and determination to be professionally successful drowns any thought of emotional attachment, even in the face of an unplanned pregnancy. Phil's frustrated relationship leads him to prove his ability in a new world record in cave diving.

There is a fascinating manipulation of music and technology. The live music brings to life the various reverberations of water's numerous tones and sounds, such as drops, waves and so on. Tim Phillips' incidental music filters into the drama and integrates almost naturally into the performance, adding the tones that help reproduce and recreate with an extraordinary effect a sense of reality.

Farr and his team explore and use familiar objects as signposts to the period depicted. An overhead projector with manually added and removed slide transparencies in the course of a lecture not only introduces the character and his views on the subject but also places him in the 1980s. There is a transition from that to the use of laptops as a form of 'face to face' communication, where Claudia and Phil see each other on the screen rather than in the flesh.

Farr's imaginative and creative direction beckons the audience into a theatrical reality mixed with the sensation of a fast-moving film. The boundaries of past and present, communication and lack of it, affection and alienation, empathy and incomprehension swim comfortably in the pond human of life. This production is in the good Brechtian tradition of Verfremdungseffekt (Alienation) and it carries off its agenda with considerable panache. It is a fun play and not without touches of good old-fashioned melodrama.

Reviewer: Rivka Jacobson