Wastwater, a play split up into three sections that are all very cleverly linked is another Simon Stephens classic.
We travel smoothly between the three settings with a clever set that rolls in and out of place during blackouts. The scenes seem to get increasingly dark which is clever on Stephens’ part, as the gradual descent stopped me from shutting off, which could easily happen with a play this dark.
Section one is focuses around Harry (Scott Temple), a boy saying goodbye to his foster mother Freida (Phillipa Peak) before he flies to Canada. Temple gives the performance of the show in this opening section, his touching and sensitive interpretation left the audience like putty in his hand, and his acting is superb. He takes advantage of the intimate setting of The Tabard and has little nuances that flash only for a second and then disappear, as well as maintaining fantastic physicalisation and emotion, and he is perfectly suited for Stephens’ writing style. All of this combined made him the stand out performance of the show.
Section Two is set in a hotel room, with a pair who are intending to have an affair. Mark (Tom Holloway), an ordinary art teacher and Lisa (Lisa Gorgin), a seemingly ordinary policewoman. Yet as Lisa begins to reveal the secrets from her past, the tensions rise and the pair become far more acquainted than they had originally planned. I thought as a pair, Holloway and Gorgin worked together brilliantly as polar opposites. On one side you have someone completely neurotic and the other completely normal. Holloway plays Mark’s normality with absolute conviction and yet completely avoids slipping into playing dull. This contrasts wonderfully with Gorgin’s Lisa, who is hysterical, which makes it even more shocking and sad when we see what a dreadful past she has had.
The final section, as I previously mentioned is by far the darkest, yet also the most powerfully written. A twisted interview/interrogation between a human trafficker, Sian (Kate Freer) and an apparently unwilling customer, Jonathan (Bryan Lawrence). The two battle back and forwards giving the audience small clues as to who they are trafficking for Jonathan and what for, which I think is an excellent writing tactic on Stephens’ part, as I hung on to every word. The consistency of the tension however, tended to dip, yet the pair regularly picked it back up again, which is impressive as sustaining this level of intensity over the entire scene is no easy feat.
The play itself is fantastic, another wonderful piece of theatre from Simon Stephens. Christien Anholt has done a great job of putting it together into one very moving production. It’s quite a full on show and I left the Tabard with lots to think about.
Review by Kara Taylor Alberts
Set within the shadow of Heathrow, three seemingly conventional yet fractured relationships are on the brink of monumental change. A mother and a son go their separate ways. Two lovers embark on sexual betrayal. A contractual arrangement takes upon a terrifying dimension.
Within these inextricably linked lives, Simon Stephens combination of black humour and emotional insight has crafted a play that combines agonising moments of terror with moving sensitivity.
Directed by Christien Anholt (Reunion, Relic Hunter, Hamlet)
Cast: Scott Temple as Harry, Phillipa Peak as Frieda, Tom Holloway as Mark, Lisa Gorgin as Lisa, Bryan Lawrence as Jonathan and Kate Freer as Sian
Wastwater runs from Tues – Sat 7:30pm, 4 May – 4 June 2016