Review: Pool (No Water)

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Green Door Theatre Company take on an ambitious task in performing Mark Ravenhill’s Pool (No Water). The play, directed by and Tia Fay, focuses on a successful artist and her group of friends and when she suffers a freak accident – jumping into her empty swimming pool and going into a coma – these friends must confront feelings of guilt, jealousy, and mania. Part of what makes it an ambitious play to perform is that the script is entirely a journey of storytelling, with no direct dialogue between actors or lines assigned to particular characters, and so it requires a creative strategy for holding audience engagement.

The directorial team create a more abstract piece that is certainly refreshing to watch, and it is interesting to see how each actor employed a characterisation to Ravenhill’s script

This is certainly achieved in some scenes, particularly when there is physical movement involved. The directorial team create a more abstract piece that is certainly refreshing to watch, and it is interesting to see how each actor employed a characterisation to Ravenhill’s script. Tia Fay, co-director and set designer, transforms the Assembly Rooms’ stage into a swimming pool, with luminous, atmospheric lighting as the audience waits for the story to unfold. Particularly effective is the use of pictures hanging at the back of the stage by string, used in a beautifully stylised way to represent digital images, which is creatively managed by Gemma Parker, the fly op. Matthews and Fay’s direction allows for a mixture of some tense moments and comic relief, which is invigorating for a play that takes on such a heavy theme.

However, since the play focuses on the group of friends and their reaction to a tragedy, it is important for there to be a strong, apparent bond between them, with the relationships between them brought to the very forefront. This was tricky to achieve owing to the script’s omission of dialogue. But it could have been made more robust in the production, perhaps through the use of movement and physical theatre – Frantic Assembly’s take on this play performed in 2006 could have provided inspiration. Also, at times the action moves to the back of the stage, and I enjoy seeing the actors make full use of the space, yet sometimes this means that lines are lost from the distance and a dip in projection. Another key part that would have transformed it was sound – the production starts with a soft pop song at the beginning and some effective sound effects, yet some atmospheric music would have heightened moments of tension.

Particularly effective is the use of pictures hanging at the back of the stage by string, used in a beautifully stylised way to represent digital images, which is creatively managed by Gemma Parker, the fly op

However, the acting is impressive. There are some excellent performances that come from the cast, in particular Lily Knowles, who delivers her lines with flamboyance and expression that is intelligently handled. also elegantly portrays the coldness of her character, holding her haughty guise until the very end, and using extravagant body language. There are some fun comic moments from Hidayat Malik, who engages well with the audience during the performance.

It is valuable to see how the creative team interpret a script that is unconventional, creating a refreshing and interesting production. I look forward to seeing what the company bring to the stage next.

Image credit: Green Door Theatre Company

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