Staying at the shallow end

By Myron My

We all know Melbourne summers can be absolutely stinking hot. For many of us, we don’t have the luxury of a swimming pool in our backyard or the time to drive down to the beach.

Water Torture

The only option is to head to the nearest public pool, as so many people do. There is a myriad of different personalities melding there in a way that – according to writer of Water Torture, Lauren Smith – doesn’t happen anywhere else.

There are roughly a dozen characters in Water Torture, and on the day being depicted many of them are more or less forced to interact with each other, even if the encounters are not always reciprocated.

I feel the writing could be stronger on two key points: namely, character and story development, especially when dealing with multiculturalism or making any social commentary. Those promising moments are so fleeting that they had no significant effect on the audience. The swimming interludes, whilst definitely showing great creativity with the music and choreography, were too long and occurred too many times.

Having said that, the majority of the cast does a great job with their roles, primarily the two lifeguards, played by Stephanie Evison-Williams and Nicholas Cain. Their Baywatch-esque lifesaving scene wins the award for the best moment of the show.

Set designer Kim Ritchie has flawlessly recreated the environment of a public swimming pool. The audience sits in the middle of the space, looking up to the actors so it feels like you are truly  in the swimming pool. The water action occurs at our level, strengthening the idea of how so many different types of people go to the public pools.

Having the audience sit on swivel chairs allows us to turn and see any of the characters at any time, even if they are not the current point of focus. The actors remain in character and interacting with each other the whole show and sometimes it’s more interesting to see what’s happening in the “background”.

Despite a few issues with the writing, Water Torture is an enjoyably entertaining hour to spend during the Melbourne Fringe Festival. It’s something so many of us can relate to from having experienced such characters as those portrayed here, by either seeing them, being with them or – god forbid – actually being them!

Venue: Revolt Productions, 12 Elizabeth Street Kensington

Season: Until 29September |Tues-Sat 7:30pm, Sun 5:00pm

Tickets: $22 Full | $18 Conc