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Fringe Online 2021

The Water Cooler

Traverse Theatre

Genre: Fringe Online Theatre, Fringe Theatre, Theatre

Venue: Traverse Theatre 3


Low Down

A surreal account of two co-workers meeting to discuss fitness to work due to her own struggles, the other events over in America and the issue of racism. Their talk meanders through to their need to escape events that could overwhelm them and thoughts that may pin them down. By the end they have found a unique means of escape which we are left wondering have the plunged deep into their solution.


Uma Nada-Rajah’s piece is very singular in its approach, however it does take a modern day place of discussion at its central metaphor – the water cooler. This allows us an entry point to the surrealist noting that you can escape through diving onto the water and splashing away from the toils and troubles of outrageous fortunes.

Our two female characters avoid being caught in the cliché of their position, one of colour, one wondering if they are well enough to make it in their world to bring a freshness to the piece which is really enjoyable. It is pitched at half an hour which makes it very digestible whilst hinting at a longer and more involved back story that would be good to know. It serves the purpose of asking the question and leaving us wanting to know more.

The sound has tremendous clarity, and we take from it the claustrophobia of their circumstances. We may be in a place where discussion is a cliché of trivial existence and trivial debates of the latest trivial reality TV show or trivial blockbuster tabloid revelation is usually held, but the silence and the focus on the conversation underpins the serious nature of its new platform. It now serves, with that focus, as the place in work where people, are set up to discuss real issues that truly matter. It is a great place to establish the discussion.

The direction is clear and adds to the effective nature of the piece which works exceptionally well, and I left the performances with exactly what I think was meant – a desire to ask more questions and to delve deeper into both topics. As such it therefore manages to provoke our thinking and explore two intertwined topics to great effect.