My Best Friend Drowned in a Swimming Pool

In Eva O’Connor’s new play, four friends recount, and dispute, their reactions to the accidental death of one of their number in a drunken accident.The subject of teenage death and bereavement is one of those which requires careful handling. A play which proposes to tackle it would require considerable wisdom and insight, and would have to leave the audience more aware of some aspect of the human condition in the face of mortality. Certainly, O’Connor’s writing is skilful and impressive, especially for someone of her age. The jokes come easily and with wit. The more serious lines, especially those that O’Connor delivers herself, are engagingly rhythmic and even a little poetic. The characters are well-realised and distinct, and each is given their own style and voice by the performers. The downside to this is that they deviate little from their chosen styles, and some of the variation is lost which might help make the most of the script. The nastiness of Chloe, for example, and the campness of Liam (with his florid hand-gestures and sparkly rosary) are perhaps spread a little thick, and are essentially unchanged for the whole piece. Nevertheless the acting is good, and the script, half dialogue and half monologue, is delivered clearly, engagingly, with good timing and commitment.The play also contains some excellent and attractive dance from O’Connor, accompanied by thick, blue lighting, presumably intended to highlight the confusion and conflict of the characters’ experiences. Even with this explanation, however, the choreographed sections do not seem to balance with the rest of the play, and seem simply to have been included because they were possible.This is one of the play’s two major problems: the different elements do sit rather uneasily together, especially the supernatural scenes involving the dead friend, Henry.The other problem is that we do not really learn anything from the experience. The characters turn to the solutions we might expect from watching Skins - drugs, sex, drink and cigarettes - but there is none of the ‘exploration’ of these solutions that the show’s advertising promises. We are simply left to assume that they do not work. And this, really, we might have guessed for ourselves.

The Blurb

When Henry drowns in a swimming pool, the lives of his four best friends are thrown into turmoil. Dark, witty new writing from 20-year-old Irish actress and playwright, Eva O'Connor.