Monday, September 08, 2008

pool (no water) Review

Review more or less as it will appear In Drum tomorrow. I think there were moments in the play when it got so dark, when the nastiest and pettiest of emotions were portrayed, that I thought something like, "Phwoar!"

A shallower bunch you've never met... unless you've hung out in an arty scene for a bit, in which case you've probably met them all. And yet, for all their shallowness there was some good in them all. Kind of. Imperfect humans, you are.

If you're in Sydney, definitely check this one out. It was a pretty good Sunday matinee audience yesterday, which probably says more than my little 300 (ish) word review. 300 words to review a play? What is that? Why not go all the way and ask for reviews in haiku form?

pool (no water)

If you like your comedy dark, scathing and brutally funny, you’ll probably like Square The Circle’s production of pool (no water).

The story follows an artistic group (The Group) and the bonds that keep them together. One’s career has taken off where the others’ flounder, and spiteful jealousy and bitterness is revealed. When the highly successful former member of The Group comes a cropper, the others make the opportunistic decision to photograph her unconscious and broken body though her prolonged healing process. They are artists, and as such feel justified in adjusting broken and bruised limbs to better capture the most flattering light, if that is what is required for a more artistic shot. The friend eventually awakens and realises what they have been doing, and is, to the surprise and disappointment of them all, grateful. She sees the power of the images and the potential for a great exhibition, once again taking centre stage. The Group feels that their creation is being taken away, and their facades unravel. In a haze of drugs, action is taken.

British playwright Mark Ravenhill appears to have a very cynical view of those in contemporary art scene. Here they are portrayed as a venomous, opportunistic bunch who inwardly drool at the prospect of success even though they claim it is irrelevant to their work. And scratch the surface of their bravado and what do you find? The same - often pathetic - insecurities that plague us all. So by and large, I reckon Mr Ravenhill nails it.

Not sure the ‘cunt’ diatribe nailed it so well here. Seemed too PC and would have felt stronger and more confronting if delivered by one of the male characters.

Still, this is a compact play with loads to say about the nature of ambition and friendship. All aspects of staging are pared back – minimal lighting, fluro and sterile like hospital lighting, effective but minimal sound design – so that this production is really about four solid performers (Angela Bauer, Guy Edmonds, Lisa Griffiths, and Sam Haft) delivering a gritty and sometimes disturbingly funny script.

Until 20 September at Darlinghurst Theatre
Photo by Alex Craig


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