The Memory of Water
by Sheleagh Stephenson
performed by Waterbeach Community Players
directed by Julie Petrucci
There's nothing like a funeral to bring out the worst in people. In Shelagh Stephenson's play, three estranged sisters (with a long history of failing to get on) convene in their mother's house, which is looking rather run-down having a large crack in the wall suggesting it is quite possibly in danger of disappearing into the sea, to make arrangements for her cremation.
Theresa, the bossy and neurotic owner of an alternative therapy business, is in a particularly bad mood having borne the brunt of the old woman's care. Middle sister Mary was mother's pet but marked her card by falling in love with a married man. The youngest, Catherine, is an immature emotional disaster area who claims to have slept with 78 men, few of whom came back for seconds.
Stephenson relates the drama to a homeopathic theory that water retains the effects of healing elements long after they have been washed away, as if in memory.
Memory is certainly a theme of the play as the sisters discuss their past memories but remembering them completely differently, even to the extent that they disagree on whom some of the events happened to. There are also memories revealed that some of them would prefer had remained hidden.
Performances by the sisters were particularly strong. Mary (Christine Easterfield) comes across as the most normal of the three daughters albeit spending much of the first Act in bed unsuccessfully trying to get some peace. She had been given more opportunities in the past which caused resentment especially with Teresa (Caroline Blair) who exposed a vicious tongue when drunk, to great effect. Drug taking Catherine (Vicki Green) competently displayed a number of emotions which underlined her immaturity much to the amusement of the audience.
Frank (Tim Boden) Teresa's long suffering husband and Mike (Steve Kennett) Mary's married lover, contributed immensely to the balance of the sexes and provided a lively contribution.
The most difficult role of Vi, the ghost of the deceased mother (Rosie Wilson) who only appears to Mary was well portrayed - but I'm not sure whether the character adds anything to the play.
However, this was a very strong all round performance under the excellent and thoughtful guidance of director Julie Petrucci supported by a very competent backstage team.
The setting, properties, costumes and lighting were all first class as was the genuine welcome to all patrons from the FOH team.
The applause at the final curtain showed just how much the performance had been enjoyed and appreciated by the full house.
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