Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Dive headfirst into the ideals of friendship and art and find out how jealousy can infect and destroy both.
There were once six of them, a tight-knit group of former art school students. But two are now dead and one has ascended so far above the remaining trio it’s as if Richard Branson or Jeff Bazos has given them a helping hand into space itself, so unreachable has she become.
This threesome are now gathered around her shining new swimming pool, already realising that they’re never going to soar to her dizzy heights, that their lives will never be painted in the vibrant colours of that shared studio a decade ago and that perhaps “the sad rot to the grave has already begun”.
Mark Ravenhill’s dark, dystopian examination of what happens when so-called ordinary people find themselves projected headlong into rather extraordinary circumstances first saw the light of day back in 2006 at the Drum Theatre, Plymouth. Pool (No Water), therefore, made its initial splash when social media was in its infancy and people’s wish to exploit photographically their and other’s every waking moment through the medium of the smartphone was not quite the blight on society that, arguably, it threatens to become.
This impressive interpretation of Ravenhill’s piece comes from the Oddly Ordinary Theatre Company, all recent graduates from Queen Margaret University and Edinburgh Napier University’s Acting for Stage and Screen courses. Intelligently directed and choreographed by the talented Sophie Brierton, this performance looked particularly at those parts of life that people tend to hide from view (well most of the time anyway) including envy, exploitation, the desire to get even and, ultimately, guilt.
Ravenhill’s script has no assigned parts so the number of actors deployed and the lines they deliver is in the hands of the team involved in the production. And what an impressive bunch this lot are. Amy Dallas is a whirlwind of emotions, especially when it comes to lamenting the passing of one of the two dearly departed. Aodhán Mallon is a wonderfully charismatic storyteller, expressive and with a beguiling innocence and the trio is completed by the commanding Isaac Wilson who conveys energy and gravitas in equal measure in a performance of commendable maturity.
This being the Fringe, a prosaic approach was needed in terms of set and props (no time to set up anything elaborate like a swimming pool and all its trappings) so a clothes rail and three stools just had to do the job. But excellent use was made of these – for example, as chairs, beds, pool diving boards and as part of a hospital ICU – and a range of other simple to deploy props helped illustrate the story unfolding before us. Lighting, oft an underestimated element of “wordy” plays, was also particularly effective, enhancing the mood at all times.
But in the end, it’s the delivery of Ravenhill’s words that makes this a piece of theatre to seek out . Dallas, Mallon and Wilson have the uncanny ability to take us from a whirligig of words, of intense emotion and energy to “pin drop on stage” quiet in an instant and their deployment of physical theatre was inventive and extremely effective. These are three very talented young actors with a bright future ahead of them. Thoroughly recommended.