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 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Box Theatre Company - The Memory of Water

15th to 18th October 2008.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Weird sisters

Box Theatre: The Memory of Water, at New Greenham Arts, Snelsmore, from Wednesday, October 15 to Saturday, October 18

For three sisters preparing for their mother’s funeral, her belongings are bound to bring back memories. But “all memories are false”, and the sisters’ recollections conflict in Shelagh Stevenson’s play The Memory of Water.

The sisters themselves are a weird lot, and the play unwraps layer upon layer of problems.

The play won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy. It certainly had some funny lines, but the main thrust of the play was about emotions and relationships, and how secretive people can be about their family shame. There’s a lot to pack in, but it still seemed overlong.

Mary, the oldest sister, was sharp and cynical, putting down her siblings. When Mike, her married lover, arrived, he was not best pleased to find out she was pregnant, and their relationship turned out to be shakier than she had thought. She was the only one who saw the ghost of her dead mother, and their conversations revealed a different view of the past than Mary had remembered. This was a complex part, and Tracey Donnelly was outstanding as Mary - totally believable, in an intelligent interpretation that was not overplayed.

As Teresa, the neurotic health food enthusiast, Adelina Miller started rather disjointedly, but wow – in the second act, when she started knocking back the whisky and gradually became drunk, this was a tour de force. It’s not easy to be a convincing drunk but this hit the mark, especially in the scene with her partner Frank (an engagingly nerdish performance from Neal Murray).

There was another strong performance from Laura Hamblin as the hypochondriac dope-head Catherine, desperately clinging on to her doomed relationship.

Jenny Flockhart was good as the mother, bitter about the way Mary has turned out, and about how she was treated by Mary. The scenes with the two of them were quite intense; particularly poignant were the conversations relating to Mary’s illegitimate, adopted, and now dead son.

Simon Fenton played Mike, bemused by the goings on of the dysfunctional family, and wondering how to extricate himself.

It’s a real delight to see such a high standard of acting, with the cast working so well together. All credit to director Gavin Slaughter.