Oddly Ordinary Theatre Company has made a highly successful adaptation of Mark Ravenhill’s Pool (No Water) at theSpace Triplex as part of the contribution by the graduates of Queen Margaret and Edinburgh Napier’s BA (Hons) Acting for Stage & Screen course to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe under the umbrella of New Celts Productions.
An exploration of the emotional gamut of envy, exploitation, vengeance and ultimately guilt
Ravenhill worked in collaboration with Frantic Assembly on this play, his first foray into physical theatre. That aspect of the original production is toned down here, partly one suspects because of the confines of the stage but also perhaps through a desire to focus on the text with few distractions. This also has the effect of heightening the moments when they do break out into dramatic movement sequences. There are no assigned parts in the text and the decision in 2006 to have four actors was quite arbitrary. It works well with three on this occasion and gives the sense that the company has made wise strategic decisions that match the performance to the available onstage space and the considerable skills of its actors.
There is little complexity in the story. Within a group who were friends at art college, one of them has become extremely successful. Her earnings are such that she can afford a house with a pool. She invites them to visit her and during their stay she is seriously injured in an accident. At this moment they decide that she could be the perfect subject for their next photographic project, despite being hospitalised and largely comatose.
Amy Dallas, Aodhán Mallon and Isaac Wilson weave their way through an exploration of the emotional gamut of envy, exploitation, vengeance and ultimately guilt that the friends experince. Initially seated on three wooden step stools the tale assumes almost poetic lyricism as they recite directly to the audience. Their voices are clear and distinctive with a level of precise enunciation that seems to be increasingly rare. The reserve that marks much of the initial narrative is gradually eroded as scenes become more emotionally charged, culminating in drug-fuelled frenzy before the denouement.
Director Sophie Brierton has crafted Ravenhill’s dense text into an accessible insight into the workings of the mind in pursuit of thrills and success, when urged on by group ambition. The lighting design by Iain Davie and William Dron serves to accentuate the text, enhance the moods and emphasise the moments of physicality.
This is an accomplished production in many respects and a tribute to the quality of the actors’ training and talents.