Review: AT THE WATER’S EDGE

A sea of possibilities with some exciting breaking waves

By Myron My

Palais Theatre is celebrating 85 years by presenting ReAction Theatre’s production of At the Water’s Edge: a collection of seven short plays celebrating life by the water.

On preview night, I thoroughly enjoyed this theme of water and its relationship to people, and it seemed even more fitting to be performed in St Kilda, right next to the beach. In all the stories, the water wasn’t just present, but was a character, always there and affecting these people’s lives, whether it be in a frivolous, philosophical or a deeply emotional way.

However, I felt rather disappointed with the three opening performances. They seemed to lack a clear plot and I was left wondering who these characters were to one another, and what were their wants, needs, desires and so on. They were stories that didn’t feel authentic and at times it seemed as if the actors were just delivering their lines and not believing what they were saying although this may simply have been some preview night nerves.

However, the stories after interval raised the bar and at times exceeded my expectations. There were particularly strong performances by Lee McClenaghan in Sausages by Rebecca Lister and the wonderfully comedic The Sunburnt Country by Camilla Maxwell. In the latter, McClenaghan and Danelle Lee play two British backpackers having an Aussie beach holiday with some interesting revelations and some sharp, authentic “British” dialogue to play with. The two actors had great comedic timing and a strong rapport on stage.

The highlight of the evening would have to go to Alex Broun’s The First Fireworks. The well-told story of a terminally ill woman, who wants to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks with her daughter for one last time, pulls at the heart strings until its sad conclusion. This is in no doubt indebted to the commitment and honesty that Josie Eberhard puts in as the mother and the wonderful support that Alicia Beckhurst provides as her daughter.

Set designer Kate Ferguson has done well in creating distinctive settings whilst being limited to a relatively small space. The use of a projected backdrop of various “water” settings is a great aid in allowing the audience to visualize these various locations.

Overall, At the Water’s Edge is a collaborative thoughtful piece on the ways environment can affect our lives, and there were strong performances by most of the cast but perhaps better care could have been taken in choosing which stories to tell here, and how to tell them.

Venue: Palais Theatre’s grand foyer, Lower Esplanade, St Kilda

Season: Until 20 November | 8:00pm and Sat 5:00pm

Tickets: $32 General Admission

Bookings: 136 100 or www.palaistheatre.net.au

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