March 27, 2017
Splish-splash! Pool Play was the most recent work presented by This Is Not a Theatre who are becoming known for their unique non-theater locations. With legs dangling in the water of the square and shallow pool at the Waterside Swim & Health Club, the poncho-clad audience waits for the show to begin.
A cannonball by actor and choreographer Jonathan Matthews signals the show to start. Short vignettes of different types of pools are strung together with beautiful and fun dances in between. Though Matthews, the primary dancer, is in the pool almost the duration of the show, it takes the rest of the actors 20 minutes to start using the water to it’s full capacity. Acoustics were an obvious challenge, but the actors worked to articulate and share focus, allowing each line to cut across the space.
Fun in concept and design, Pool Play is definitely an experience any audience member will be sure to talk about long after leaving the Health Club. The dance numbers were surely the highlight of the evening, as were the big moments of splashing and rafting, however the dialogue by playwright Jessie Bear was not as memorable.
Thematically, the idea of water stood out, but since it was composed of a shorter series of vignettes, there was not much connection beyond the similarity of physical location. As the sun went down the room got darker and the lights submerged in the water illuminated the actors, creating a dazzling picture that was emphasised each time the waves rocked the audience member legs back and forth.
Calm and moving, fun and interactive, Pool Play,/i> carved out a new type of theatre-going experience. Oh, and I’ll have ‘Nightswimming’ by R.E.M. stuck in my head for the rest of my life.