We are introduced to a group of artists, four that stand before us, two more that we hear about only through the other four. They have all been avant garde and passionate in their work, using such muses as the HIV epidemic and heroin babies, living as Bohemians, slaves to an art that romanticizes being poor, being addicts, and feeling extraordinary emotions that careen from adoration and love to the desire to kill in instants. The one named character, Sally, who we never see, dies of cancer, while the other has become so successful that she has risen out of their world and their group and their city and now lives in a grandiose house, in a life full of wonderful excess, with a pool.
And while she is still their friend, and while she is generous to them from her new life, the four friends begin to hate her. They begin to hate her and to feel jealous and all the emotions merge together into a muddle of feeling when suddenly she has a horrific accident that pushes all these emotions to their extreme. While she is lying unconscious at the hospital the four artists, at first, relish in the opportunity to care for her, and then realize that they have been given a muse for an exhibition that could catapult them to the successful life of riches, at their friend’s expense. The result is an interconnected teeter-tottering of feelings, experiences and perceptions, showing how often one person’s success can be tied to another person’s misfortune, and vice versa.
Ravenhill’s play comes alive with riveting performances by its ensemble: Chy Ryan Spain, Sarah Illitovitch-Goldman, Daniel Roberts and Allison Price and it is directed exquisitely by Jill Harper with fantastic physical choreography by Patricia Allison. The result is that the way in which the play is performed captures vividly the state of mind of these four friends. As they drink and take drugs, the entire world of the play morphs further away from the plane of reality and becomes more ephemeral. Each one admits to horrible thoughts and each of them do selfish things, but pool (no water) honours the humanity in is, to be so deeply flawed, yet irrevocably connected together.
TWISI FRINGE RATING:
Cue 6 Productions’ pool (no water) plays at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgman Avenue) as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival at the following times: