A Body of Water: a Drama of Memory and Identity at The Exit Theatre
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The last date listed for A Body of Water was Sunday November 22, 2009 / 7:00pm.
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In this modern masterwork -- critically praised as a unique mix of Oscar Wilde and Bertolt Brecht -- the great Irish writer George Bernard Shaw pits a military industrialist against his crusading daughter. She's a Salvation Army major; he's an arms manufacturer and whiskey distiller -- on certain issues, they could not disagree more. But when he begins donating money to her organization, matters come to a head as the characters grapple with questions of business, faith, family and philanthropy. After 16 years, A.C.T. brings Shaw back to the stage with this co-production with Theatre Calgary, one of A.C.T.'s favorite Canadian collaborators, featuring an international cast of Canadian and American actors. Learn More
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from bwkbwk
view more less of this review
Actually, I give it 3 1/2 stars, but rounded up to 4 stars.
Excellent play that keeps you wondering the entire time about where things are headed. Every time you think you know what's going on, the play provides another twist.
The only reason that I gave the play 3 1/2 stars instead of 4 stars, is because the play ends with the ultimate storyline still open to interpretation.
Excellent acting by all cast members, and a very good stage set, as well.
All-in-all, a very enjoyable time.
Quotes & Highlights
- “A cross between Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett...you stay riveted as you try to puzzle out the play’s reality...Halsey Varady strikes just the right mixture of anger, amusement, cruelty and empathy, keeping us effectively off-balance...endlessly interesting.” --San Francisco Examiner
- “Don't Miss” --San Francisco Chronicle
- “A cryptic game of cat-and-mouse in the oblique manner of Albee and Pinter...Stephen Drewes' production plays its mind games with dexterity.” --Silicon Valley Mercury News
A middle-aged couple awakens in a beautiful country house on a hill, surrounded by trees and glimpses of water. There's just one problem. They can't remember their own names, much less the relationship between them. Their ensuing pursuit of memory yields both terrifying and comic results, setting them adrift on a leaky raft of postmodern anxiety.
For Moss (James Allen Brewer) and Avis (Holly Silk) the loss of memory equates to loss of self, a disorientation that produces a paralyzing loss of agency. Unable to move in any direction, they are at sea without a paddle. We’re in Samuel Beckett territory here, with a generous splash of Neil Simon, stuck between a familiar-seeming reality and the terror of a missing “self.”
Enter Wren (Halsey Varady) whose passive/aggressive behavior only serves to confound Moss and Avis’s efforts to get a hold on reality. Who is she? Their daughter? Their attorney? Their
torturer? The latter seems altogether possible when Wren forces them to look at grisly morgue photos of a bludgeoned child—their own? Wren is cruel one moment, kind the next. She keeps changing her story, and, by extension, theirs. Reality is as slippery as an ice cube in Wren’s hands.
The Spare Stage production of Lee Blessing’s A Body of Water – a Bay Area premiere – opens November 6 and runs through November 22 at EXIT Theatre, 156 Eddy St., in San Francisco, with Spare Stage Artistic Director Stephen Drewes at the helm.
A Body of Water premiered at the Guthrie Theater in 2005 after being work-shopped at the Playlab Festival. Blessing, the author of over 20 plays and screenplays, is perhaps best known for his play A Walk in the Woods, the story of an impossible friendship that grows between an earnest young American arms negotiator and his more cynical Soviet counterpart during their private walks together.
The playwright is considered a major force in post-1960’s American theater for plays that are thoughtful and often controversial explorations in the variances of human relationships. His work has been nominated for Tony and Olivier Awards, as well as for the Pulitzer Prize. He currently resides in New York City.
During the final weekend of of A Body of Water Blessing will be in residence at the Playwrights Foundation in San Francisco, leading a writing workshop. He has generously agreed to discuss his work with the audience following the Nov. 21 performance
Director Stephen Drewes launched his career as an actor at Berkeley Rep in 1970, and went on to a 35-year career as a professor of Theatre Arts, actor, and stage director. He co-founded Spare Stage in 2008 with Aaron Murphy, the company’s executive director. Drewes and Murphy, both native san Franciscans, met as teacher and student in 1993, when Murphy enrolled in one of Drewes' acting classes.
James Allen Brewer (Moss) trained as an actor with Uta Hagen at HB Studio in New York City and at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre. He began his professional career as a singer and dancer, touring nationally and internationally, and appeared in regional theatre when he was tapped by cartoonist Garry Trudeau to embody “Doonesbury” rock star "Jimmy Thudpucker," co-writing the music and lyrics and providing the character’s voice for the Academy Award-nominated film, based on the comic strip, which won the Jury Prize at Cannes. In 2005 he produced, co-created, and starred in SIMPLY SONDHEIM – A 75th Birthday Salute, San Francisco’s concert tribute celebrating the life and work of legendary Broadway composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
Holly Silk (Avis), a fourth generation San Franciscan, began her career in the arts as a dancer, ultimately touring with Dick Bright’s SRO for 16 years, performing throughout the world. She has been and continues to perform as the “Girl in the Fishbowl” at San Francisco’s legendary Bimbos 365 Club in Northbeach. Her previous experience with Spare Stage was as Cory in Private Eyes.
Halsey Varady (Wren) grew up in Los Altos and as a teenager sang with the San Francisco Girls Chorus with whom she toured extensively in the US, Japan and China, and performed with San Francisco Opera. She attended Yale where she sang with a cappella groups touring Asia and Europe. Her numerous Bay Area credits include Brenda Lee, Petula Clark and Janis Joplin in Beehive, the 1960’s Musical; and Girleen in The Lonesome West both with San Jose Stage Company. She also played Bianca in The Taming of the Shrew with The Shady Shakespeare Theatre Company, Squeaky Fromme in Assassins at City Lights Theatre Company, Madge in Picnic with Palo Alto Players, Helen of Troy in The Trojan Women at Foothill College and the title role in Gypsy with Saratoga Drama Group.
About the Ticket Supplier: Spare Stage
Spare Stage was founded in 2008. Their aim is to produce plays with a dynamic balance between actor, director, and playwright. They favor eloquent language and elegant simplicity in staging, while nurturing creative ensembles.