Great Acting Serves Disjointed Vignettes in WASTWATER
(l-r) Nick Horst and Kendra Thulin. Photo by Gregg Gilman and Lee Miller
Sometimes the rain stops just as you are about to see a play in which all three scenes mention the rain just stopping and the play is called WASTWATER and it’s set in England where very often it rains for a long time and you think that’s a sure sign of it being one of those experiences that is simply gearing up to be aligned proper. Connectivity. Relatability. Synchronicity. “An unpredictable moment of meaningful coincidence,” according to Jung.
Try as it may, it didn’t quite pan out that way. The acting was lovely, especially a touching scene between Melissa Reimer and Joel Boyd, but the meaning remained elusive and disconnected. The production resembled an advanced acting class scene study more than a complete coherent story needing to be told.
As stand-alone scenes, the first had the greatest success. The story not only was the most authentic, but had the most genuine delivery. Perhaps due to its context remaining rooted in a believable reality. Things get weirder from then on as the second set of actors struggled to make honest choices. Scratching the surface of the sadomasochism can of worms, what could have been a powerful exploration of this often-judged sexual dynamic, left the audience with slight unease. Sadists and masochists both love the aspect of pain. Giving it and receiving it, respectively. If one isn’t into it, it sort of loses its charm. The fake slapping didn’t do it any favors, either. By the time the third scene rolled around, the naturalism laid out by the first story had mostly disappeared and we were submerged into a thriller fully equipped with a foreigner with sunglasses, blinking fluorescent overheads and a badass female with a gun. By this point, even though said badass lady with a gun was mentioned in the first scene, there was no way to buy that was the same person, let alone the same reality. It was if as though we had flipped through Netflix and decided to watch the beginning of a drama, the middle of a romcom and the end of a suspense. The planted connections fell short of meaning; the consequences of choices—irrelevant.
Then again, you walk out of the theatre, and the smell of the freshly fallen rain fills the nostrils, people’s footsteps squish about on the wet pavement, the characters and their stories float on the sublime horizon and you are reminded that all major decisions and non-consequential actions alike are just a part of living.
July 15th, 2016