By Christopher Douglas
pool (no water) by Mark Ravenhill takes no prisoners in its portrait of modern jealousies, anxiety and commodification in Cue6's production when four artists take to the bare Tarragon stage.
Minimalism at its finest, the stage designed by Christine Groom compliments the choppy stream-of-consciousness style of the dialogue. Four white plastic chairs face the audience inside a white tape shape that encloses the edges of the space, evoking the typically entertaining vessel of the title - possibly inferring that these characters are as empty as the pool itself, or that they merely reflect themselves to each other.
The nameless bohemians (played by the lascivious Chy Ryan Spain, the embittered Sarah Illiatovitch-Goldman, the neurotic Daniel Roberts and the tall yet grounded Allison Price) create a portrait of one of their peers, talented but absent, who married and moved across the country to a home with a pool and a trainer. When they are convinced as a group to join her for a visit, to escape their depressing, broke but creatively rewarding lives, an accident occurs while they are reliving their younger days that changes the course of their friendship. Following the incident, issues of artistic authorship arise - Does a victim own their experience more than a witness? And what ethics surround the creation of work that is born from tragedy?
Superficiality abounds in their catty dialogue which rarely achieves depth, but that is Ravenhill's point. These jaded artists are nasty people who commit a heinously selfish act yet they do the right thing in the end - for all the wrong reasons.
Director Jill Harper has the actors fluidly move through the narrative locales during a show that keeps pace with an Olympic swimmer in order to avoid letting the audience become burdened by the darkness of the script. The gracefully synchronized choreography by Patricia Allison allows everyone to catch their breath.
Chilling and controlled, pool (no water) might be in my head for days: a thoughtful and precise play with themes that go below the surface of art and humanity - definitely an experience worth having at the theatre.
Info and tickets for all Toronto Fringe shows can be found at fringetoronto.com