The Memory of Water by Shelagh Stephenson.

THE MEMORY OF WATER by Shelagh Stephenson ; Production ; Directed by Alice Hamilton ; Designer: Anna Reid ; Lighting Design: Johanna Town ; Composer & Sound: Harry Blake ; Voice & Dialect: Stephen Kemble ; Casting: Briony Barnett ; Assistant Director: Aysha Kala ; Cast: Lucy Black, Adam James, Kulvinder Ghir, Lizzy McInnerny, Carolina Main & Laura Rogers ; Hampstead Theatre ; London, UK ; 4th September 2021 ; Credit & copyright: Helen Murray

The Memory of Water begins as three sisters, Teresa (lucy Black), Mary (Laura Rogers) and Catherine (Carolina Main) get together in preparation for their Mother, Vi’s (Lizzy McInnerny) funeral. Set in her old bedroom throughout the performance I felt it kept the focus centred around the reason they are all there and gave the play an intimate setting.

Credit Helen Murray.

Torn apart by years of secrets, tantrums and uncomfortable silences each of them has different recollections of the shared memories from their childhood. Right down to the death of the family cat. As with many siblings bickering where each one believes that the other was treated better or favoured.

Alzheimer’s tears families apart as the patient lose sections of their memories in stages. Slowly taking away the person they were one memory at a time. Writer Shelagh Stephenson allows the sufferer a voice during the play. Combining Vi’s fading memory with the three daughters differing childhood memories. Which meant we get an insight into all sides of the family members stories.

Mike (Adam James) gives a brilliant performance in the role of the married man who has been seeing Mary for five years. The intimate scenes between the pair came across as natural and heartfelt. The death of Vi brings up emotions and conversations that have been buried for too long and finally need to be addressed by the couple to move on.

Credit Helen Murray

The conversations which take place between Vi and Mary open up an insight into how their Mother had felt about her three daughter’s. As a mother of two daughters, I recognised the feelings of being closed out of their lives at times and not being included in their conversations.

The exceptional quality of actors in The Memory of Water allows Director Alice Hamilton to bring this sad and heartfelt family death to life as everyone affected by it deals with their grief differently, as the three siblings demonstrate. There are some slightly surreal moments at times, comedy, anger, tears and laughter but surely that’s all part of being a family. Warts and all parts which writer, Stephenson has managed to capture with an air of compassion.

Playing from 9th September to 16th October 2021. Use the links below for further details and how to buy tickets.

Four Stars.


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