Saturday, 13 August 2011

Rising Water, Tim Winton, MTC, August 12, 2011

Review: Rising Water, by Tim Winton, for Melbourne Theatre Company ***
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • August 12, 2011 12:27PM

RISING WATER, by Tim Winton, for Melbourne Theatre Company. Arts Centre Playhouse, until September 10

THE three main characters in novelist Tim Winton's first play Rising Water live aboard their rocking yachts in a Fremantle marina.

They are avoiding not only the rowdy, boozy Australia Day celebrations, but their own lives and past sins.

Winton's dialogue is a collision of Aussie vernacular and dense, image-laden lyricism, but though his writing balances comedy and poignancy, the play lacks a dramatic arc.

The inner lives and public relationships of the trio, the capable acting of the three leads and Kate Cherry's imaginative and deft direction are the most successful components of this production.

John Howard is controlled and sympathetic as the quiet, melancholy, middle-aged Baxter, who hides from his grief and shame aboard his permanently moored boat, a metaphor for his stagnant life.

Geoff Kelso is a rare treat as Col, a scrawny, boozy bloke who uses blunt ockerisms to tease Baxter, while making no attempt to fix his mangled mast or launch his own yacht.

By contrast, Alison Whyte plays a refined, elegant Jackie, who may be booze-free but is as damaged and secretive as her neighbours.

British backpacker Dee (Claire Lovering) acts as the catalyst for Baxter's watershed experience and for the three boat-dwellers to share their secrets, but she is unlikeable.

Christine Smith's design is visually compelling with real yachts teetering on their moorings, but without a coherent dramatic structure, the script lets down the production.

Star rating: ***

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