“Memory Of Water” play looks at Greek Mythology in Contemporary setting – Most of Barbadian troupe shine {MILD SPOILERS}

How does one find humor in Alzheimer’s or Death? Shelagh Stephenson did and it earned her a Best Comedy from the Lawrence Olivier Awards in 2000. Can you translate the setting from Britain to Barbados? No, that would remove the integrity of the play, but Bajans can, have and will perform in this original use of compelling humor to appreciate the Generation Gap & the vagaries of 21st Century romance with a walloping secret surprise, don’t miss “The Memory Of Water“!

All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre

All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre

The characters are not necessarily in sequence, which I’ll explain further on… There’s Catherine (Nailah Cumberbatch – a London child of Bajan parents) – she’s the youngest and very much a nymphomaniac, falling into one of the female traps which women shouldn’t… Hoping that the latest relationship is the solution to all of one’s problems, when that doesn’t work? Be a shopaholic! “Just because you’re broke doesn’t mean you can’t buy things,” she calmly responds to one of her sisters.

Mary/Endy McKay {left} about to assault her sister Catherine/Nailah Cumberbatch on the lap of Mike/"Blood" Armstrong (All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre)

Mary/Endy McKay {left} about to assault her sister Catherine/Nailah Cumberbatch on the lap of Mike/"Blood" Armstrong (All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre)

Catherine’s latest boyfriend is Pepe, uh, Xavier (Based on the running joke in the play) who’s from Spain. Although not seen, he is a catalyst in moving forward the rapid-fire plot, and when he finally calls, then it brings many issues to a head.

Mary (Endy McKay – a full, true Brit with a boyfriend who’s a Londoner of Bajan parentage) is the ‘middle‘ child and it appears the favored girl, she is a doctor who was in the middle of treating a young amnesiac. In the middle of coming to grips with her Mother’s sudden death, she’s trying to repair a long ago secret – what? Only Mary and her memories know – but as you will discover, in a way, she’s really the eldest.

Mary’s love interest is Mike (AndersonBloodArmstrong, an Entertainer many Bajans are familiar with but still getting accustomed to him being an actor), a married Television Personality – who claims his wife is ill. Does he really love Mary or does he love the thrill of the forbidden-ness of the relationship? What does she expect from the liaison with this “celebrity“?

Teresa (Award winning Suzan Sylvester, also of Turkish ancestry) is the genuine eldest but the real in-between sibling, she is the upright, responsible, vegetarian and Health Food fanatic who minded her mother, now winding down in her Alzheimer’s fugue. Her husband is Frank (Look who’s back in Barbados! It’s Harrisonian Drew McKenzie, one of the original Skitsomania crew when it started at the Sandy Bank which is now the Black Pearl in Hastings), who goes to numerous Health Food conferences for Teresa – how does he really feel about this ‘worthy cause‘? The way these two encountered each other is more common nowadays, but when the play was composed, around 1999, it was still unusual at the time…

Cast member, Drew McKenzie with noted caribbean actor Clairmonte Taitt{All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

Cast member, Drew McKenzie with noted Caribbean actor Clairmonte Taitt{All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

Blood‘ in playing Martin as the celebrity lover, needed to exude more charisma to show why Mary decided to love dangerously and brave the potential of paparazzi tracking their movements. Endy McKay’s Mary had her voice projection pitch-perfect every scene, while Teresa and Catherine seemed mumbly at the start, as the play progressed then they compensated for the crowd which removed any previous ambiance they had during rehearsal.

The Sisters/Fates unbeknowingly joined by their mother's Spirit - Persistence of Memory? {All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

The Sisters/Fates unbeknowingly joined by their mother's Spirit - Persistence of Memory? {All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

The other essential character in this play was Vi, the mother as portrayed by Caroline Gardiner, who you do not immediately realise as a spirit trapped in Mary’s memory. There is much wrestling of generations as Vi’s daughter’s come to terms at how sometimes children become parents and parents revert to infancy, even though you still revere them as your personal gods – now with feet of mud not even clay.

Vi/Caroline Gardiner poses "Why were you so impatient with me?" to Mary/Endy McKay in one of the plays more tender moments {All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

Vi/Caroline Gardiner poses "Why were you so impatient with me?" to Mary/Endy McKay in one of the play's more tender moments {All photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

This play is also a crucial scrutiny of Life itself and what seems like a while is actually too brief and when you have the chance one should say what is needed to be told, because you may not get that second chance. Shelagh Stephenson’s tragicomic allegory also plays off of two iconic situations, in one way there is a hearkening to Woody Allen’s “Hannah & Her Sisters” which is openly referred to within the play, while the other as unspoken seemed readily apparent to me…

Director of 'The Memory of Water' Thom Cross with Cicely Spencer-Cross {All Photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

Director of 'The Memory of Water' Thom Cross with Cicely Spencer-Cross {All Photos courtesy Matthew Murrell & Gale Theatre}

Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos – the fates. Each sister had an aspect of the Greek mythos. Catherine was Clotho who starts the thread, which was true in dealing with the call from her Spanish paramour it began the whole catharsis for the sisters; Teresa although biologically eldest was Lachesis, who measures the thread – again she lived up to this when she sought to examine every character’s life on one of the play’s most poignant yet humorous moments; while Mary despite her being the 2nd of 3 was nevertheless oldest of all, in her Atropos aspect she must cut the thread – this is something she dreads and yet has to perform this duty no less than 3 times in the span of two days (It’s how the play elapses, it covers 48 hours).

Thom Cross’ direction of the play was just as stirring with his handling of “The Final Truth,” as viewed back in 2007 at the Bridgetown Film Festival. Thom’s control of how Drew portrays a laid-back Frank who has his own private dreams is correct, but Mike needs to ramp up his energy to show he’s a Media Personality who’s in the end rather egotistical, boosting energy is not impossible for “Blood” considering he’s no stranger to the stage with or without music!

Personal shot of Fateful sisters with Director in After-Party

Personal shot of Fateful sisters with Director in After-Party

There was a 2-hour After Party which sought to raise funds for two Bajan actors (Jherad Alleyne and Shawn Adderson Forde) leaving to study in London at the Gale Theatre. As their website says, “The Gale Theatre of London & Barbados creates a two way cultural exchange enabling theatre lovers, residents and visitors from around the world to share in the riches of the Caribbean.

At present it brings in UK expertise where necessary while embracing Barbadian talent. Gale intends to build on the exchange, by taking productions and actors from Barbados to London.” The After-Party feature will happen each night of the play’s performance to assist in offsetting costs for these students, so get to Frank Collymore Hall and support Local Theatre!

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