With Frantic Assembly’s memorable style making waves in contemporary theatre, it would have been easy for the Sheffield University Theatre Company to merely mimic it in their production of Pool (no water).
However, they managed to tread the fine line of keeping to the physical theatre roots of the play, whilst putting their own stamp on it.
The dialogue of the play, as it leapt between the four characters, and those characters dipped in and out of the character fifth, was disconcerting – but it was testament to the talent of the actors that the audience retained an emotional connection to their individual characters despite this.
Notably, I felt that Matt Stevens found the balance between genuine human emotion and artistic pretentiousness that his character required, but there were bold and believable performances across the board.
Aesthetically, the production was imaginative beyond the constrains of it’s budget.
An inspired use of wire and photography created a stage space which accentuated the themes within the play, whilst the simple lighting effects, which could have left the production looking cheap, were used inventively and to great effect.
Tom Dixon’s choreography formed a large part of the plays bulk, but was unusual in many plays that utilise dance.
It was devoid of cliché, and complimented the action perfectly.
My only criticism of the production was of the play itself.
There was little distinction between the individual characters within it. It felt like a shared monologue and as such, there was no scope to see the relationships between the characters change.
This, was a shame, since the actors could have dealt with this complexity well, and it would have added a deeper emotive quality to the performance which was lacking from an entertainment, rather than intellectual point of view.
Overall, the play was a great success.
At once, a compelling investigation of the motives and pretentiousness of art, and an entertaining, thrilling spectacle, showcasing the remarkable acting, production and choreographic talent of the cast and crew, left ultimately flawed by a simple play that held them back.
–Jack Wing, Forge Arts, 30th October 2010