Like good magic, good theater direction is a consummate vanishing act: The better you are at it, the more invisible your work becomes. By this definition, Chris...
Like good magic, good theater direction is a consummate vanishing act: The better you are at it, the more invisible your work becomes.
By this definition, Chris Mayse, Atlas Theatre’s artistic director, isn’t there at all. That’s how well he has shaped “The Memory of Water,” his company’s second production of 2005.
Playwright Shelagh Stephenson’s intelligent play (it won the 2000 Olivier Award for best comedy) is a noisy show built around silences.
Three sisters come together the day before their mother’s funeral. Mary (Maggie DiGiovanni) is a doctor pushing 40, unmarried and not happy about it.
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Teresa (Christine White) is the family martyr, the sister who has nursed their mother during her decline.
Catherine (Erica Stoddard) is the screw-up, the cute sister with the hooker-style clothes and zero confidence.
Mary also has the ghost of her mother, Vi (Lisa Viertel) dropping in to challenge Mary’s version of the past.
“The Memory of Water” by Shelagh Stephenson. Runs various dates through Nov. 13. Produced by Atlas Theatre at LiveGirls! Theater, 2220 N.W. Market St., Seattle; $8-$10 (206-325-6500 or www.ticketwindowonline.com).
Complicating matters further are the men the sisters are involved with: Mary’s guy, Mike (Aaron Odom), is a doctor with a wife and kids; Teresa’s husband is the patient, not so talkative Frank (Philip Clarke); and Catherine has a disenchanted boyfriend in Spain who dumps her via telephone.
As played by these talented actors, Stephenson’s hurting people emerge as interesting, funny, complex persons in ways that constantly surprise.
As Teresa, White lets us see the comic rage she feels underneath her control-freak persona and also the loneliness she often feels being married to a very quiet man.
DiGiovanni makes Mary a tough, professional woman with a hole in her life she can’t fill. Stoddard shows us how an emotionally neglected childhood can keep a child from growing into a woman.
And Viertel creates a mother who must make peace with a daughter who took and didn’t give.
The gentlemen, in supporting roles, are every bit as good.
Simply put, with this strong show, theater is alive and well in Ballard.