pool (no water)
Lots of splashing going on in this waterless pool
|Vitalist Theatre presents|
|pool (no water)|
Review by Katy Walsh
Better job, nicer clothes, hotter spouse, it’s always great when a friend succeeds. Outwardly, we react to the news with grins and compliments. We smile so broad it hurts. We toast them with sugary, high-pitched exclamations. Inwardly, there is the smallest, darkest part of our soul that is unhappy about it. We are envious. And if our green monster starts to run with a pack of wolves, watch out! Somebody is going to get hurt.
Vitalist Theatre presents the Midwest premiere of pool (no water). Four artists celebrate the new gallery exhibit of their friend. While they struggle with obscurity, she has easily advanced into celebrityhood. They are so happy for her… well, not really! And one night, when she dives into an empty pool, their manifested jealousy emerges from below the surface. The foursome believe it’s their turn. They will finally get what they deserve. At the deep end, pool (no water) plunges four characters into the dark side of self-discovery. But on the shallow side, all the splashing makes it hard to understand what’s really going on.
Playwright Mark Ravenhill penned a compelling tale. The friendship story is narrated in verse by the jealous friends. The successful artist isn’t physically present. Her words are spoken by her *friends.* It’s the unholy alliance between the friends that makes for juicy storytelling. It’s a continual oh-no-she-didn’t observation of these guys and gals that tethers the audience to the story.
Under the direction of Liz Carlin Metz, this production uses improvised movement to enhance the storytelling. At its best, the synchronized physicality adds a powerful dimension. Two memorable moments both involve Meghan Reardon. At one point, the other three poetically lift her into a backfloating position. At another time, Reardon splatters herself upside-down on the side of the pool. The imagery on both occasions is an unsettling realization. Surrounding these thought-provoking physical set-ups, there is a whole lot of mosh-pit-slam-dancing. The energy level of the ensemble is impressive. But the contact improv is clunky. The story gets lost in the distracting bouncing off the pool and people buffoonery.
Designers Richard Norwood (lighting) and Courtney O’Neill (set) create a tranquil oasis. The pool aesthetic makes taking-a-dip look appealing. That is until Designers Gregor Mortis (sound) and Michael Stanfill (video) effectively fill the serenity with noise and visual angst. These pool boys (and gal) know how to make an unforgettable cannonball in a pool.
With less flailing, this pool (no water) could dive into a strong riptide of emotion. Right now, it’s just treading water with excessive movement.
pool (no water) continues through September 30th at Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm. Tickets are $25, and are available by phone (773-404-7336) or online through Tix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at VitalistTheatre.org. (Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission)
Photos by Anthony Aicardi
behind the scenes
Liz Carlin Metz (director); Courtney O’Neill (set); Richard Norwood (lighting); Michael Stanfill (video); Gregor Mortis (sound design); Allison Smith (costumes); Kathleen Dickinson (stage manager); Kat Reiser (asst. stage manager); Adam McDowell (production asst. director); Robin Metz (producer); Anthony Aicardi (photos)