Saturday, 8 February 2014

Out of the Water, Feb 7 Feb, 2014 ***1/2

By Brooke Berman, Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre,
Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre, until March 8, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Feb 7
Stars: ***1/2
Review also published  in Herald Sun online on Mon Feb 10 and in print on Tues Feb 11. KH 
Brett Cousins & Kate Cole in Out Of The Water. Pic David Parker

Falling in love can be gentle and comforting but it can also be desperate and ravenous, as Polly and Graham find out when they reunite in Brooke Berman’s play, Out of The Water.

Kate Cole is satisfyingly unpredictable and feisty as Polly, the New York cafe-owner who tumbles into a torrid affair with her former stepbrother, Graham, who is played with vulnerability and restraint by Brett Cousins.

15 years ago, Polly’s mother divorced Graham’s unpleasant father, but the pair collide at Graham’s dad’s funeral in Liberty, Iowa, where Graham lives with his deluded, depressed Christian wife and his family.

Despite their former, mutual loathing and vastly divergent lifestyles and beliefs, Polly and Graham’s loneliness and need for intimacy launch them into a passionate, emotionally dangerous and inevitably foolhardy liaison.

When Graham’s conservative, Jesus-loving, teenage daughter, Cat, (Emily Milledge) arrives to retrieve her dad, it is evident that the relationship is doomed and Polly cannot haul Graham out of the water to save him from drowning in his own life.

The problem for Polly is that she cannot save herself from drowning either.

Berman’s loosely allegorical references to Odysseus being held captive for years by the nymph, Calypso, are tenuous, unnecessary and inaccurate, given that Graham pursued Polly to New York and stayed by choice, despite her protestations.

The performances are nuanced and engaging, and director, Nadia Tass, skilfully focuses on the complex emotional layers that are buried beneath these three, confused and needy characters.

Berman’s episodic structure allows time to pass as Polly and Graham’s affair evolves from rampant lust to joyful, but still passionate domesticity, however the long scene changes that Tass carefully masks with music, become tedious after a while.

There is a sense of foreboding throughout for the couple whose need for connection makes them clutch at each other to save themselves from isolation – in a marriage in Graham’s case, and in a teeming city for Polly.

Out of The Water is a snapshot of a love affair that will resonate with many people who risked their hearts on a hopeless love.
By Kate Herbert
Nadia Tass - Director
Brett Cousins as Graham
Kate Cole as Polly
Emily Milledge as Cat

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