Flowing ideas run through ‘A Body of Water’

In Lee Blessing’s 2005 drama “A Body of Water,” that image recurs throughout. The two main characters, Moss and Avis, stare out their big picture window, entranced, to a beautiful panorama below, especially to a multipart body of water.

There are also three characters in the play — presented by Spare Stage — and in a sense each character is in fact a body (composed) of water.

Water is amorphous, quicksilver. And so are the people and events in this play. Their memories and identities, like water, are elusive, for them as well as for the audience. It’s a brain-teaser for sure — an intriguing one.

When the play opens, we discover that the middle-aged couple in bathrobes, sipping coffee, have no idea who they are, who the other is, what their relationship is to each other, where they are or why.

Strangely composed, they try to ferret out the reality of their situation. It feels like a cross between Harold Pinter and Samuel Beckett, and at first it’s reassuringly funny.

Soon enough, though, a young woman arrives. She identifies herself, and them, in various ways as the play continues. Are they sequestered murderers and she their defense attorney? Is she their daughter? A caregiver? Do they have Alzheimer’s? Did a tragedy rob them of their memories? Did one try to drown the other in the water below? Do they love each other or hate each other?

In Spare Stage’s spare production, directed by Stephen Drewes, there are a few too many blackouts for scene changes, which impedes the flow of the action. But nevertheless you stay riveted as you try to puzzle out the play’s reality.

As the couple, slender, elegant Holly Silk as Avis, and James Allen Brewer as, presumably, her husband, are an uneven duo; she’s all grace and self-control, convincing as a cool, slightly remote woman, while his acting is on a less adept level, at times rather wooden and awkward.

As the third, mysterious character, Wren, Halsey Varady strikes just the right mixture of anger, amusement, cruelty and empathy, keeping us effectively off-balance. The production may be flawed, but it’s endlessly interesting.

THEATER REVIEW

A Body of Water

Presented by Spare Stage

Where: 156 Eddy St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays; 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Nov. 22
Tickets: $18 to $24
Contact: (800) 838-3006, www.sparestage.com

 

artsentertainmentOther Arts

Just Posted

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

Speaker of the Parliament of Mongolia Gombojav Zandanshatar said his country and San Francisco face similar challenges on issues including COVID recovery and climate change.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Mongolian leaders meet with tech, film leaders on city tour

‘I really want San Franciscans to meet the new Mongolian generation’

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Most Read