Pool (No Water) - Illogical Limbs & Burrowed Time
Written by Mark Ravenhill
23-26 May 2018, Basement Theatre, Auckland
Reviewed by Lauren Sanderson
British playwright, Mark Ravenhill’s award-winning play Pool (No Water) was brought to life at Auckland’s Basement Theatre. Directed by Amber Liberté, this mesmerising rendition is proof as to why merging theatre, dance and art works.
The engaging interpretation explores themes of greed, despair, envy, love and loss as it follows a group of contemporary artists on their path to destruction as a friend’s success leaves them jealous, pushing them to, not only, abuse their friendship but into a life of substance abuse.
As we entered the space, the piece had already begun. A female figure (Michelle Blundell) was crouched on the floor unravelling a bloody bandage. She slowly made her way around the space attaching white tape to the floor as the audience chatted amongst themselves, we later found the tape represented the ‘pool’. Soon the five performers; Hamish Annan, Amy Atkinson, Katie Burson, Zak Enayat and Grace Goulter entered the stage and began to share their story of the traumatic event that turned their world upside down and led them to drugs.
Even though the piece had dark themes there were elements of humour that brought light to the performance. The fast pace of the work helped emphasise the use of substance abuse, however at times it was hard to follow. The performers had high-energy and the use of dance added another layer to the performance. The jolted abstract movement broke up the narrative and allowed the audience to take a breather from the sometimes confusing dialogue.
The work consisted of group choreography and solo movement that was dynamic, erratic and fast-paced. Adding dance to the piece allowed you to distinguish the different personalities in each character therefore connecting with their individual stories. The performers were perfectly in sync and fed off each other’s energy to create new and engaging movement. Although the choreography was rehearsed some gestures seemed to be triggered by the emotion that the performers were feeling at the time.
Blundell, who played the envied friend Ellen Mason, returned to the stage at random times, piecing together an art gallery made up of red wool, open pill packets, a picture of a hospital bed and a small container of toothpaste. All of which appeared to be a number of miscellaneous objects that only made sense once the piece had finished. Blundell’s appearances seemed very separate to the rest of the performance and I felt she needed dialogue or more movement in order to connect the two.
Although at times the narrative was hard to follow, Pool (No Water) was still extremely engaging and left you questioning the next moment. The dance element of the piece made the performance unique and even more abstract; it allowed the work to flow and unleashed a new side to the dark challenging story of human experience.