(Not) Water

Theater, Experimental
  • 2 out of 5 stars
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(Not) Water
Photograph: Courtesy Marina McClure

Theater review by Helen Shaw 

The well-meaning, environmentally minded (Not) Water has been in the works for a very long time, and along the way it has gotten mired in fascination with its own development. The show is an assemblage of flotsam and jetsam, glued together with conversations between actors playing co-conceivers Daniella Topol (Polly Lee) and Sheila Callaghan (April Matthis), in which they constantly assure each other that their new work will be “beautiful” or “edgy” or “fully aware of our own privilege.” They find designers; a producer (played by Rebecca Hart) says they should do a workshop. They even dramatize making a grant proposal, which is one degree of narcissism worse than telling a stranger your dreams.

Water is too enormous a topic to tackle in any meaningful way, so the pair splash around desperately: There’s a Katrina monologue, a proposal at sea, a long section of listening to wave sounds. At the show’s nadir, they have a mop “sing” a ditty about cleaning. (Not) Water’s agglomeration of unconnected scenes, dance-theater interruptions and recitations of news items is meant to be a far-ranging meditation on everything H2O, but Callaghan and Topol are too busy telling us about the 11 years they have spent creating it. That’s far too long, clearly. At some point—maybe a decade ago?—the topic seems to have slipped through their fingers.

3LD Art & Technology Center (Off-Off Broadway). By Sheila Callaghan and Liza Birkenmeier. Directed by Daniella Topol. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 50mins. No intermission. Through June 30.

Follow Helen Shaw on Twitter: @Helen_E_Shaw

By: Helen Shaw

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Event website: http://www.worksonwater.org
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