St Jude's Players
St Jude's Hall (Grundy Hall)
Until 11 Aug 2018

Review by Janice Bailey

St Jude’s Players have a well-deserved reputation for producing plays of an exceptionally high standard, the content of which resonates with a wide range of audiences. “The Memory of Water”, by Shelagh Stephenson, certainly lives up to expectations.

Ole Wiebkin’s set design is, as usual, imaginative and creates the ‘bleakness’ of a house that holds many memories and secrets. Water is an important metaphor throughout the play, from the location of the house at the encroaching water’s edge to the sadness and tears of the three sisters. Memory, too, is like water as it ebbs and flows – and for the three sisters the memories of their childhood are quite different.

While there are serious elements to the story there is also comedy. Director Geoff Brittain has assembled an excellent cast who have tackled the difficult task of believable tragi-comedy exceptionally well. The audience are taken on a tumultuous journey from laughter to shocked silence as the story unfolds.

Matriarch Vi, played with excellent control by Madeleine Marin, appears through the memories of middle daughter, Mary. Cheryl Douglas gives an impeccable performance as the guilt-ridden Mary, whose secrets affect her relationship with married boyfriend, Mike.

Youngest daughter, Catherine, is self-obsessed while the eldest, Teresa, feels martyred as she feels she has always had to play the role of ‘the rock’ in the family, left to care for their mother. Husband Frank is played with conviction by Stuart Pearce. Laura Antoniazzi is wonderful as ditzy, lonely Catherine. Jenny Allen as the martyred eldest daughter delivers a strong performance.

This is a beautifully crafted play, well directed and performed, in keeping with the high standard expected from St Jude’s Players.