Water is said to retain memory, the ability to remember substances that have since been diluted from said water particles even after multiple rounds of dilution. A fascinating idea igniting the imagination, it’s clear just how powerful memory is within our existence. An exploration of memory and grief, The Memory of Water, written by Olivier Award Winning playwright Shelagh Stephenson, returns to the Hampstead Theatre stage 25 years after its debut.
A play mainly concerned with the power of memory, Stephenson’s meditation on the past from the perspective of three siblings – Carolina Main’s buoyant younger energy Catherine, Laura Rogers’ cool, studious Mary and Lucy Black’s motherly, warm Teresa offers a space to slow down and process the present, events leading up to the family’s reunion shaping their present circumstance. The trio brought back to their family home in preparation for their mother’s funeral a unifying reminder of the power of unconditional love, in particular the power of the matriarchal presence – and its impact once this is no more.
The battle between inner state and their seemingly calm exteriors a fascinating element of the piece. Kulvinder Ghir’s measured Frank – partner to Teresa and Adam James’ assured Mike – partner to Mary drawing out their inner thoughts and feelings, these scenes continuations of their mother’s legacy as we witness how they now navigate their very own relationships.
We observe grief from the eyes of a strong trio, each bringing with them they’re very own perspectives on the memories they’ve retained. We watch their process of dealing with this new family dynamic and what this means to them. Anna Reid’s aquatic inspired, ornate master bedroom stage design immediately submerging you into their mother’s world – Atlantis-like, we pick up on their mother’s need for glamour and opulence. Alice Hamilton directs a nostalgic family drama concerned with exploring the psychological realm, the play’s defining factor.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Memory of Water is currently showing until Saturday 16th October 2021 at the Hampstead Theatre. To find out more about the production, visit here…