BWW Reviews: Powerhouse Performances Fuel THE MEMORY OF WATER at the Promenade Playhouse
The Promenade Players Theatre Company presents the Los Angeles premiere of THE MEMORY OF WATER, a witty and moving exploration of family dynamics by British playwright Shelagh Stephenson. Winner of the "Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy," this absorbingly entertaining play is full of dark humor and heart featuring three sisters - paranoid Mary, uptight Teresa, and strung out and bratty Catherine - who have returned home on the eve of their mother's funeral after her battle with Alzheimer's.
The stage is set for hilarious sibling jealousies, witty bickering, and doped-up soul searching as each sister holds distinct memories of their childhood. With each having her own unique perspective on what these memories mean, the play addresses the question of what is real when you can't agree on the past?
The three sisters dominate the play's action with Danette Garrelts as successful doctor Mary, Alexa Asjes as uptight organizer Teresa, and Jasmin De Main as loudmouth pothead Catherine. Whenever these women are onstage together, sparks fly and tempers erupt. Certainly their bickering will remind anyone with a sister of many a family gathering where each tries using guilt to get the upper hand.
Making her appearance as well is the ghost of their mother, Vi (Bette Smith). who appears in Mary's dreams throughout the play. Their mother-daughter interactions reveal memories long forgotten and family memories best left buried in the past. But of course, when Mary wakes and confronts her sister Teresa about her painful past, the truth revealed turns out to be even more confrontational for the sisters.
Garrelts, Asjes, and De Main shine as sisters trying to do what is best in a diffcult situation, with each failing miserably in their love lives. Garrelts' Mary is involved with Mike (Frank Krueger), a married man and fellow doctor she has been seeing for 5 years. With her biological time clock ticking away, will Mary ever get Mike to commit to having a child with her? De Main's Catherine brags about all the men she has been with, the latest being Javier, a hot Latino who fails to support her emotionally in her time of need, sending her into an emotional tailspin. And Asjes' Teresa is married to Frank (Ralph Radebaugh), a poor milquetoast who runs the health food store when Teresa finds her supplements of choice. But at least Frank is able to offer Teresa the emotional support she needs when alcohol gets the better of her.
Once the booze and pot, as well as Teresa's many herbal remedies, enter into the mix, the emotional confrontations escalate - pushing the sisters to the breaking point. Director Vincent Lappas skillfully takes us through all the awkward moments of finding and fighting for what the sisters know in their minds to be true while dealing with putting their mother to rest, knowing she was slowly losing all she knew to be true. These moments are certainly brought to light as the sisters go through their mother's closet, trying on her dresses and deciding on what to do with each of the items they find as memories flood their minds.
A hit in London's West End, THE MEMORY OF WATER vividly brings home all the joys and sorrows of family relationships as well as the heartbreak of Alzheimer's. Partnering with the Alzheimer's Association, there will be a short Q & A sessions following some performances to provide information about the disease that is the 6th leading cause of death. Every 67 seconds in the United States, someone develops this disease which kills more Americans than breast and prostate cancer combined.
THE MEMORY OF WATER written by Shelagh Stephenson, directed by Vincent Lappas, starring Alexa Asjes, Jasmin De Main, Danette Garrelts, Frank Krueger and Bette Smith, continues through February 15 with performances on Fridays at Saturdays at 8:00pm with Sunday matinees on February 1st, 8th, and 15th at 3:00pm at The Promenade Playhouse, 1404 3rd St Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401. General Admission Tickets $20. Reserve ONLINE at: https://www.plays411.com/memoryofwater or by calling 310.960.7785.
Photo credit: Antoine de Lartigue.
Alexa Asjes (l.), Jasmin De Main
Alexa Asjes (l.), Jasmin De Main
Ralph Radebaugh, Jasmin De Main
Danette Garrelts, Frank Krueger
Ralph Radebaugh (l.), Alexa Asjes, Frank Krueger, Danelle Garrelts