pool (no water)
nytheatre.com review by Leslie Bramm
May 11, 2012
6 close friends. 6 artists, all trying to create meaningful, if not pretentious, works of visual art. They share everything: Drugs, sex, poses, postures, and taking turns being the muse for each other. One of them gets famous. Known mostly as “She,” she is suddenly the hot topic and living a life the other 5 can only dream of. But, their dreams are more like night terrors, as they psychologically descend into a vat of bile, jealousy, comparison, and self reflection. In fact She is a mirror, and what gets reflected back is their obscurity.
She invites them all to fly west and into her lap of new-found luxury. Nothing says visual-political-social artist like a fully staffed house in the hills, and oh yes, a pool. Once back together the gang of 6 quickly fall into 20-year-old behaviors. They reminisce, take a lot of drugs and decide to go skinny dipping. As a ramification of being multiply wasted, She dives head long into the Pool; problem: no water. In an instant the art world's new phenom is broken, bleeding, mangled and soon in a coma. The 5 friends photograph her injuries and recovery, hoping to capture the essence of the art that made She famous.
I’ll stop here because the rise to climax and the pinnacle itself need to be seen, and I don’t want to give anything away.
As we audience enter the theatre and take our seats we are confronted with larger than life tape loops of these 5. They appear to be highly insecure and deeply navel-gazing. The actors do their pre-show prep in full view of the audience, because more than anything else theses characters are dying to be “seen.”
The play is directed with aplomb by Ianthe Demos. Demos moves the actors around like a chess champion. The tempo is tight, and the transitions flawless. Natalie Lomonte’s choreography suggests the inner bitterness and desperation that these characters are feeling. Her moves are sharp and symbolic.
What makes the play so captivating is the ensemble work of Estelle Bajou, Christopher Baker, Nick Flint, Christina Bennett Lind, and Richard Saudek—they are, in a word, dynamic. Each actor is graceful, emotional, and riveting. 5 large white benches are swung, stacked, tossed, lifted and configured in often precarious ways to suggest multiple locations. The text is physically and emotionally demanding. All their hard work as an ensemble pays off. They perform the play with a well deserved confidence.
What I truly enjoyed the most about pool (no water): it is a piece of theatre. Ravenhill creates a series of large metaphors, and expresses them through visual symbols and poetic language. He captures the ugly part of jealousy and recognition that’s in all of us.
One Year Lease has done an excellent job in bringing this ensemble-driven play to fruition. They should serve as an inspiration to other theatre groups. You can still take a chance on the bold.