By Mark Ravenhill
Directed by Simon Stone
With Dion Mills, David Whiteley, Melissa Chambers & Jessamy Dyer,
Set by Peter Mumford
Lighting by Danny Pettingill
Sound by Xana Chambers
Stage Manager Kylie Hammond
GREEN ROOM NOMINATIONS: Best Ensemble, Best Lighting Design
Pool – No Water (11 June – 5 July)
Chris Boyd, Herald Sun (17/06/2008)
ARTISTS typically live in great poverty or great luxury. There’s a chasm in the middle. They live in bitter oblivion or find glorious fame. But most stay poor and unknown. No wonder they resent the few who make it.
In this play, four of the moderately talented losers are invited to the palatial home of the moderately talented winner to relive their skinny-dipping, drug-taking glory days. There’s a terrible accident . . . (the spoiler is in the play’s title.)
This dark and foul-mouthed play (from the author of the notorious Shopping and F—ing) is short — just an hour — but intense. It’s all in there. It’s as filling and as satisfying as a three-act play.
Pool (No Water) is extraordinarily energising. It’s hard to imagine the play better realised than it is in this Red Stitch production, handsomely set in a black-tiled pool (by Peter Mumford) and lit with intense white strip-lights (Stelios Karagiannis). No costume designer, alas. And it shows. The play is skilfully directed by Hayloft founder Simon Stone.
David Whiteley’s acting is awesomely turbo-charged, verging on psychotic. But he doesn’t ever lose control. Jessamy Dyer is a master of the kind of intense role she’s given here. Dion Mills, likewise, is perfectly cast as the pained, cultured, thwarted artist. Melissa Chambers makes the most of a juicy and varied part.
Almost single-handedly, Red Stitch has revived the art of performing plays in Melbourne.
Travis de Jonk, SameSame.com.au (22/06/2008)
From the moment Pool (No Water) begins, you will be utterly captivated and moved to the edge of your seat till the very end. This latest offering by Red Stitch Theatre tells the story of a group of ‘hip bohemian artists’ twenty years on from their art school heyday. They are not young any more, and still not cutting it in the art world. That is, except for one of them, who becomes outrageously successful.
That is where the play begins. You soon find out that ‘Miss Successful’ tore the group up when she left them all to pursue her ambitions, and is secretly the resentful envy of her ‘friends’ who have now just become a bunch of ‘hangers on’. She is of course oblivious to the mixed emotions of her friends, believing that they love her.
Little does she know how very very wrong she is about them, when she invites them over to have a splash in her success… I mean pool. Of course, they accept. The thrilling dark rollercoaster ride to the darkest regions of the human soul begins.
It’s a simple story essentially, but layered with so much emotional complexity that only the human animal can have. You will feel chewed up, spat out and rolled in honey, all at once. But you won’t look away for a moment.
Pool (No Water) was a spot on choice for this theatre company. The 2001 play is one of the most recent works by Mark Ravenhill; A notorious and controversial UK writer who would be best known for his other theatrical works Foust Is Dead, Handbag and the infamous Shopping And Fucking. The brilliant fast pace writing is peppered with hysterical but very dark humour, and more profanity than an episode of South Park. So suffice to say that this is not for the faint hearted, or those who can’t deal with the real raw human experience. Human nature reveals it’s ugly side, and it’s shocking and riveting.
Red Stitch has made some very smart choices in the staging of this production. From the set, to the costumes, to the lighting, direction and acting choices, the language of this production is very ‘now’, drawing on contemporary references that anyone will instantly recognize and relate to. It’s very hip, cool and visual. The set leaps out at you like an 80’s remake video clip, with its tile grid and Fluoro UV lighting. The actors all decked out in bright American Apparel clothing instantly makes you feel like you are in some wicked advert or music video. The amazing raw performances from the cast contrast from this artificial world, and pop out to punch you in the face. It really works, and keeps you coming back for round two.
Great performances by the talented cast create a convincing and captivating mirage. The ensemble paints a vivid picture, rich in emotion and packed with tension. People, places and moments in time are conjured up from thin air and the simple set, and you’ll swear that you can see them in reality, even though it is just in your minds.
I’m fortunate enough to see a lot of theatre in my line of work. I know a great show when I see it, and this production is exceptional. Red Stitch Theatre is a true Melbourne gem. I feel sorry for all those of you who don’t live in Melbourne, because chances are you are not going to get the chance to see this truly extraordinary theatrical work. As for those of you in Melbourne, don’t waste this opportunity to catch some great art. Wow. You have to see this play.