Incisive wit
brings tale of death to life

The Memory of Water
Adam House Theatre

www.edinburghnews.com  EVENING NEWS
Cast photo
HAGGLING: The three sisters who bicker over their mother's possessions in this clever production
THEATRETHE Memory of Water is one of those performances where the issues pertaining to it stay with you longer than the two hours in which it is played out on the stage.
Three sisters, all with different personalities, return to their childhood seaside home for their mother's funeral.
Every reunion uncovers parts of the past that may be better best forgotten, or indeed - as is shown here - memories of it that differ somewhat from other people's.
Despite the bereavement, the sisters inevitably have to quarrel over their mother's possessions, which play out in her bedroom during the build up to her cremation.
The sarcastic Mary, played here by the very impressive Irene Beldon, gets some great lines in a production that is literally littered with quotable dialogue. "You get the watch and the engagement ring," she tells one of her sisters. "I'm having the breast pump."
Although it's a play that deals heavily with grief and loss - and is therefore somewhat likely to prompt the odd sniffle, no matter
how hard you might pretend that you've "just got a cold" - The Memory of Water is not depressing, thanks to a particularly witty and sharp script.
At times comparable to Mike Leigh meets Victoria Wood - Abigail's Party meets Acorn Antiques if you will - there are priceless bitchy snippets throughout, most noticeably when the fanciful Teresa has slightly too much to drink and really goes to town: a joy to watch.
This is a brilliant performance from Eileen Stout, who clearly relishes camp lines such as: "I'm reciting recipes - I've tried meditation but it's just not the same" and "How dare you walk in here and pontificate."
They are joined by younger - and slightly chaotic - sister Catherine (Beatrice Cant), who never really seemed to fit into the family.
She is troubled in relationships and seems more concerned about an absent boyfriend than the death of her mother, and even - at one point - makes a pass at Teresa's husband.

Though each character has a sub-plot, it's perhaps Mary who gets the larger share. Her late mother appears to her in a number of visions, bathed in a green light, as Mary discovers the truth about a past she's always hoped would catch up with her.
There is also a very loose general theme that pervades about memories flowing like water, following a line where someone theorises that water itself retains memory.
Given that we're largely made of water, it explores the concept that something more than memories can be passed on from generation to generation, and that death is not really the end.
That makes it all sound somewhat heavy, but in fact the rest of the production is nothing of the sort. Stevenson should perhaps have cut that part and given the play a different name.
But, this is nothing to do with the Edinburgh Makars, who perform the work almost flawlessly.


`I loved the
 play .. they
 were great'

June Murray, 57, care assistant, Bellevue: "It was brilliant. It was really funny, but sad at the same time. The humour was very good, I really enjoyed it. Very good and very sharp. My partner is a theatre buff, that's why we came along."
Kate Knox, 62, receptionist, Slateford: "The show was brilliant, but the Makars are absolutely brilliant. I loved the play and thought they were great. I was a bit worried at the beginning as there were two or three prompts, but they got over that really quickly and I think they were really believable. There are just a few amateur companies in Edinburgh that I go to see, the Makars, Edinburgh Theatre Arts and Edinburgh Graduate Theatre. They're so good."
James Mcluckie, 29, manager, Meadowbank: "I wasn't quite sure where the family were from, as they all had different accents. Some of those lines probably worked better with an accent though. Teresa was the best character, definitely, especially when she'd been hitting the sherry, but I do have a soft spot for Mary."