The Memory of Water
Everyman, Cork

This Theatre Royal production, directed by Ben Barnes, is a mixture of pathos, comedy, bitterness and conflict as three sisters gather for the funeral of their mother, Violet.

At the heart of the play is the unreliability of memory, with each of the sisters remembering the same events in completely different ways. This creates much friction.

Set in Violet’s bedroom, the crack on the wall is like a metaphor for the brokenness of the deceased woman’s daughters. Outside, away from the claustrophobia of the room, the weather is freezing, meaning the siblings are confined to the house, even when the going gets rough and the sisters take to glugging from a bottle of whiskey.

The characters are strongly drawn. Mary, the middle daughter, is played with sensitivity by Jenni Ledwell. She carries a heavy burden and is told some uncomfortable news. Violet’s ghost appears to Mary and despite the rancour that exists between them, they come to an accommodation.

Teresa, the eldest of the sisters, is unhappy in her marriage to Frank. Played by Julia Lane, she is the one who takes to the whiskey with a vengeance, feeling hard done by for having had to take on the responsibilities of organising Violet’s funeral because “everything falls to me.”

The youngest of the family, Catherine, is played primarily for laughs by Emily Nagle. Catherine is a mess, clocking up disastrous relationships with men who never stick around.

There are many entrances, exits and slamming of doors. Strangely, Catherine leaves the room at one point by walking into a wardrobe. The coldness of the weather could be better conveyed, underscoring the chill factor in this play. The sisters act out their assigned roles in the family, with Mary being the one that Violet says is most like her.

Continues until Saturday.

— Colette Sheridan

Star Rating: 4/5


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