Some gentle wonders, very good stagecraft
Waterproof is a one-woman show played with a lot of charm by Eva Sampson, as a wide-eyed innocent, fascinated by water, devastated by the loss of her job at Luton’s (fictional, we hope) Waterworld, and upset by the loss of a boyfriend she never had. At its best – and its best was really very good indeed – it had an elegant, self-deprecating humour that was reflective, insightful and delivered with a real awareness that entertainment was the goal. The extensive range of props on the stage were brought to play in ways that met the needs of the subject matter head on.
Early on, Laura admits us to her fantasy, a red-headed girl who finds a compelling vision of herself as a princess in a fairytale world under the sea, using a big book and a few cut out figures to make her point, and it all works beautifully.
The magic doesn’t end there; there are many other moments of revelation (about the nature of Laura’s character mostly) and the way she uses props is often reminiscent of a Jacques Tati character. Madeleine Scott Cree should also be given a mention here, because this is a busy show for lights and sound and the chief technician from the Archway Theatre in Horley hit every cue on the night.
Its not all good news though. The storyline is thin throughout (why is she still in the abandoned Waterworld building?) And though Eva Sampson puts a lot of effort into making her character big enough to fill the stage, the idea of a ‘love at first sight’ attraction to one of the visitors to the acquarium in its final days isn’t really enough to sustain more than a pale imitation of a Bridget Jones scenario, even if – in this case – girl doesn’t get boy. Something extra is needed to pull this into a different category if it really is to be powerfully, or just wittily, different.
There is though, a piece of lovely fantasy once more towards the end of the ninety minutes of so of the performance, and the way that the wheelbarrow becomes, with the aid of a couple of torches and some balloons, a ship of dreams is a simple but wonderfully effective piece of showmanship.
In the end, this production is full of heart and nicely mounted, but charming and engaging are the adjectives most appropriately used about the performance, while the subject matter remains just a little bit tired.
Eva Sampson – Laura
Writer – Teresa Burns; Lighting and sound – Madelaine Scott Cree; Production – How it ended productions
reviewed Friday, 4 March 2011, at the Courtyard Theatre Studio
(c) michael spring 2011