Aurelius Productions, Water

Review in Issue 12-1 | Spring 2000

Never have I seen a wheelbarow used to such diverse effect. It masqueraded through the production as a car, a grave, a hill, guns, a tank, and, naturally, as itself. In fact, this prop rather reflected the imaginative performance at hand.

Set in an undefined area of Eastern Europe under occupation during WWII, Water concentrates on the flow of life and death, raising questions about religion, the atrocities, destruction, and loss of innocence that war brings in its wake. Despite a practically bare stage, the thoughtful script and the performers managed to contrive scenes that ably suggested a landscape of war. Lighting was kept to a minimum, and sounds created by the objects on set, such as four balloons of water that hung dripping into buckets, which created a very effective cavernous, or outdoor environment, or the banging of the wheelbarrow to evoke gunfire. The three actors, along with an evocative four-piece musical ensemble, brought light, and a folktale mood to what could have been a bleak atmosphere.

Considering the meticulous layering of the production, Water never seemed to be completely assured of its identity, however. While the text was rich in content, and the physicality of the mime extremely expressive, the loquacious script lost its depth and meaning at times to the energy of the performers, and equally the actors lost out to the complex structure of the narrative. There was too much guessing as to what was happening, yet conversely, not enough left to imagine. One of the actors portrayed at least four characters, but with nothing to help distinguish her new identity in terms of script, mime, or guise. Water’s determination to reach deep into the heart of its subject was sometimes overcomplicated and unnecessary. Notable though was Sarah Leaver, whose measured, fearless performance really lifted the production.

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Issue 12-1
p. 25