This afternoon, I saw One Year Lease Theater Company's production of pool (no water) by the British in-your-face playwright Mark Ravenhill. This excellent production at the Barrow Street Theatre closes on Monday, so in spite of the warning in the play's title, you'd better jump right in and see it.
Ravenhill is most famous for his play Shopping and Fucking, a title which The New York Times famously refused to print in an un-amended form. My introduction to his work, however, came from Faust is Dead, a play where sex, drugs, and violence are meticulously dissected with a weltschmerz Goethe easily could have easily recognized.
Though Ravenhill wrote pool (no water) as a single block of text, director Ianthe Demos has broken it up into five voices, performed by Estelle Bajou, Eric Berryman, Nick Flint, Richard Saudek, and Maja Wampuszyc. The play begins with the actors coming out onto the stage and stretching beneath five larger-than-life projections of themselves. Those projections, it turns out, are on four long, white benches which form the whole of the set. The company moves the benches around into such creative configurations, however, you'll find yourself thinking no finer set could ever be possible.
Ravenhill's text is disturbing and honest in the same way as Faust is Dead, and includes some of the same motifs: the inscrutability of fame, the difficulty of true intimacy, and the random taking of chemical substances in a drug-roulette that serves as a metaphor for a plethora of self-destructive activities. What really makes this play stand out, however, is the cast. All five look like they're giving the performances of their lives.
If you're interested in going, you can get more information here:
One Year Lease Theater Company