CCM Immerses Its Audience with “H2O: A Play About Water”
Posted On April 24, 2018
Review by Shawn Maus of H2O: A Play About Water: CCM Acting
“The Greeks called me Poseidon. The Americans: Katrina, Harvey, Irma. I am the damn breaker and the hands that cup Monet’s lilies.?
According the Wikipedia, water is “a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance that is the main constituent of Earth’s streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms.” Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. Water covers 71% of the Earth’s surface with only 2% of this water being fresh for drinking.
That’s the science.
At CCM‘s Cohen Family Studio Theater you learn the drama of water. Conceived and directed by Richard Hess and written by six CCM students this 60-minute play (selected to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – and possible Cincy Fringe), the audience is swept into the creative tides of storytelling. Water God (Carter LaCava) and Water Goddess (Jenny Molet) anchor the tale of the life-giving and death-taking/defying bodies of water through the ages. The scenes takes us through the horrors of waterboarding, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Flint, Michigan water crisis, the Great Dustbowl/Black Sunday of 1935, and the Dakota Access Pipeline protest to the pleasures of remembering what it was like to go fishing on a lake in the warm summer sun. There is much more going on here than political statements.
As Water God and Goddess remind us, “Water is life. Life is Water.” It’s a complex relationship.
The life of the stage is encased in a set design of pure poetry. As you enter the theatre bright blue fabric coats the stage. That fabric becomes the water as Fish and Water God and Goddess enter along with Scientists to take us on a spellbinding tour of our relationship with the water, the planet, the stories of people who have survived and perished because of our symbiotic relationship with the power of H2O. The choreography of the fabric is amazing and breathtaking. At times it’s a ballet of movement sweeping the hurricane victims (“I saw a dead man float by, mouth open…”), or the riptide of surf in Hawaii (“I didn’t believe that someone could die on a beach this beautiful in a place that smells of lilacs and salt water.”), or just the fun, peaceful, frolicking blue calm of Dan and his wife (whose whistling is an annoyance to Dan, but comic delight to the audience). The flowing “material of blue” is a symbol of water’s wisdom, grace, music, power, chaos and beauty of this commodity that is bought, sold, collected and connects us with each other and our world.
Water God and Goddess are exotic beings of nature with their layers and textures of clothing and face of paint strokes that seem to hold magic powers of war, peace, tranquility and protection. The character reactions are genuine as the ensemble cast earnestly work through the emotions of internal struggles, completely random events that disrupt lives and the quality and depth of relationships. And to add another element, the script adds some rousing renditions of tunes from Simon and Garfunkel, Bobby Darin (or Frank Sinatra, depending on your preference for the tune “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”), even Burt Bacharach.
This is a play that connects the audience on a variety of levels and is accessible to a wide audience. It deals with themes of great love and forces us to look inside ourselves to overcome a struggle with the most powerful element on earth.
This is a play that is urgent and exhilarating at rises on massive strengths of its solid emotions, incredibly committed cast and and visually gripping scenic design.
You are completely involved in everything that happens and you feel like you are a part of life of water and that this water is life.
H2O only played the weekend of April 19-21st at CCM, but I hope the play will be performed again by them or others, so that more people can experience this most poetic, dazzlingly creative, theatrical achievement unrivaled in its beauty, ingenuity and brains.