BWW Review: H20: A PLAY ABOUT WATER at CLAY HIGH SCHOOL
"Water is life, and there can be no life without water." This is the main concept of Clay High School's award-winning production of H2O: A Play About Water. The show consists of separate vignettes about the place of water naturally on the planet and what role it plays in man-made society. The messages speak on the spirituality, danger, and political climate that surrounds water. Needless to say, not everyone will leave this show happy due to these topics. Regardless, Clay High School's magnificent ensemble still brings out a memorable production despite varying views on any of the show's themes.
The show truly is an ensemble piece in every sense of the word, starring different cast members in each vignette telling a different story in their own unique way. All do an admirable job in performance and storytelling but my personal highlights were Lydia Talcott and Maya Francis who both have such a sincere and natural way of delivering their material while also keeping the audience focused on their every word.
The two characters that keep all of the stories tied together are the water gods, played by Lucy Beard and Nathan Flesh. They carry some of the most complex emotions in the show. A perfect example is the "Waterboarding'' scene in which they question how a person could use water to purposefully harm another person. It's fascinating to see their responses to the action of using a life source as a form of torture. In movement and emotion they help add depth to each scene, though at times it feels that their voices are more focussed on being powerful than emotional.
The true show-stealers are the visuals. Meagan Beard's staging with the pairing of Pierre Cook's and Chloe Ilene's choreography creates striking visual storytelling that would be impressive performed by a cast of any age. The visuals add to the story, making the scenes more memorable and the point of each scene more poignant and thought-provoking. The 'Erosion and Delusion' scene is a perfect example. A wave slowly moves higher on stage until the audience pieces together that it will eventually cover the actress on stage. The simplicity of the stage is refreshing and helps keep the focus on the relationship between the characters and water.
A drawback comes with the scenes that lack any visual storytelling. These scenes still have interesting information to add to the overall show, but fall flat on impact because they have no dramatic visuals to back them up. Examples are the opening of Act 1 and Act 2. They do not negatively impact the show majorly, but they remain as dialogue dependent stories that don't have character to them. They become forgetful statistics and facts which feel preachy in the wrong ways. However, these scenes are few and far between, and the majority of the show is effective in its execution.
Overall, Clay High School's production of H2O: A Play About Water is an informational and impactful play with impressive performances and well-executed staging. The ensemble's hard work shows and is on par with most other local theatrical productions in the South Bend area.
Photo Credits: Jon Gilchrist