BITTERSWEET COMEDY IS AN EMOTIONAL RIDE
‘Well Directed and beautifully performed, The Memory of Water was a perfectly sweet and sour portrayal of family life and death, and a credit to all involved.’
Surrey Advertiser Theatre Arts review 27 April 2012
The absorbing production of The Memory of Water, performed by the Guildburys at The Electric Theatre, took the audience on an emotional white-water ride into a bitter-sweet comedy of bereavement and family rifts.
The play, written by Shelagh Stephenson, focuses on the reunion of three sisters as they prepare to attend the funeral of their recently deceased mother. Each of them staggering slightly under the weight of their own private baggage, the sisters relax into familiar sibling rivalries, finding comfort during difficult times amid old, well worn bickering.
Lines spark between the characters like quicksilver, side-splitting one moment and sombre the next, but all delivered with real feeling by a compelling, excellent cast; a tightly bound ensemble with the skill to switch easily from fast-paced banter to moments of quiet introspection.
Taking up residence in their mothers’ old bedroom, rummaging through her belongings and tossing aside childhood memories as they struggle to agree their versions of events, the sisters’ black humour puts the fun into this dysfunctional family.
Every move and action was carefully considered. Youngest daughter Catherine (Debby Phillips) splendidly hurling all her possessions at random over the floor, eldest child Teresa (Kathryn Attwood) constantly ‘twitching’ and growing steadily more drunk, and ‘golden girl’ Mary’s (Polly King) contrasting outer control and inner turmoil.
Standing round the edges of this delicate family construct, trying to paper over the cracks and hold things together, were husband Frank (a cleverly observed portrayal by Steve Nankervis, with flashes of snap and verve lighting up Frank’s grey cloud of world weary disinterest) and lover Mike (Phill Griffith) but ultimately the men prove too burdened or too selfsish to help hold back the flood of emotions that leave each character struggling to keep heads above water.
Some of the best moments were captured in the conversations between the girls’ dead mother Violet (Gilly Fick) and Mary, the two actresses expressing the complex mother/daughter relationship and creating a real sense of love, loss and shifting perspective of memory.
Well Directed and beautifully performed, The Memory of Water was a perfectly sweet and sour portrayal of family life and death, and a credit to all involved.
SURREY LIFE MAGAZINE
‘Guildburys are always inventive in their productions and in this instance, the projection of shimmering water and black and white photos added a professional touch. The cast looked as if they enjoyed every moment and they had clearly worked hard at delivering a play worthy of the West End; a fact appreciated by the delighted audience.’ Tinx Newton
See the full review in Surrey Life Magazine here
‘On top of excellent acting, the production was set beautifully. It may have only been a simple bedroom, but the use of projection through one wall, lighting, set dressing cannot be underestimated. Ian Nichols must be congratulated for his wonderful design, complemented by simple and effective lighting and evocative music.This attention to detail came through everywhere in this production and the director, Laura Sheppard should be very proud, the direction was excellent in every respect throughout this excellent, funny and poignant play.’ Nicole Rose
See the full review in Sardines Magazine here
Director Laura Sheppard brought the best out of the cast, especially the three sisters. Congratulations Guildburys for a superb production; once again this talented society presented the packed audience with an extremely entertaining evening. Betty Haslam
See the production gallery here