Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Lake Water Makes Waves

To have a visceral experience while attending theater usually means a successful script and production. I had that while watching Lake Water. Troy Deutsch’s striking play is insightful, captivating, and powerful. Lake Water watches two high school students, James, played by Deutsch, and Iris, portrayed stunningly by Samantha Soule, as they meet on the dock of a lake, after Iris receives a frantic voicemail from James. Without giving too much away, James and Iris try to find light and amusement in a dark situation following the recent suicide of a mutual friend. Unfortunately, as they sit on the dock, the past is exposed and the blame game is in full effect. What is so enthralling about Deutsch’s script is he takes a far too prevalent topic in today’s society and finds a slightly different angle. He brings his characters to life, allowing the audience to instantly relate to either of the characters or the situation at large. James manages to touch all the stages of grief in a span of eighty minutes. James is the epitome of what seems to be happening in America today. He’s a character screaming for help when no one seems to be listening. Deutsch’s James is heartbreaking. He offers the perfect amount of pain and sorry without becoming a martyr. Samantha Soule’s Iris is riveting. Though there were moments you wanted to hate her character for her actions and verbal daggers, you were still sympathetic with her in her unlucky situation.
photo by Hunter Canning

Lake Water is a play about discovery. It’s a play about grief. It’s a play about reconciliation. It’s a play about escaping the mundane. It’s a play about letting go. And Daniel Talbott successfully finds a perfect balance of allowing it all shine through. His direction is top-notch and quite striking. He helped Deutsch and Soule find the beauty in silence, which were some of the most poignant moments. Despite the lack of dialogue, simply sitting in silence spoke wonders.
The design of the show, as a whole, was phenomenal. Walking into the IRT theater, you’re instantly brought to the lake. Eugenia Furneaux-Arends’s set is inviting, yet perfectly mysterious. Brad Peterson’s lights told a story of time and played perfectly on the dock. The consistent nature soundscape designed stylishly by Janie Bullard was fulfilling and never distracting. Being able to listen to the sounds of nature when the actors had nothing to say was comforting and much needed. The contrast of Iris’s bright and bubbly dress to James’s dark and drab hoodie spoke to who the characters were in the moment of the play. Tristan Scott Barton Raines found a way to costume the actors without making it feel it was pulled out of their closet. The overall design was remarkable, especially for the capabilities of the theater.
America today is filled with fear of the unknown. Many pieces of theater nowadays that have touched upon suicide in small towns fail to compare to the powerful of Lake Water. Troy Deutsch has a remarkable voice as a playwright. I truly hope there is a future for this play. It’s a story that needs to be heard, immediately.