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Pool (no water) | Black Swan State Theatre Company and The HotBed Ensemble
Written by Anna Locke   
Saturday, 19 September 2009 00:24
Pool (no water) | Black Swan State Theatre Company and The HotBed EnsembleLeft - Natalie Holmwood. Cover - Natalie Holmwood, Jacinta John, Kazimir Sas, Arielle Gray, Will O'Mahony. Photos - Gary Marsh

There is little to fault about Pool (no water), the latest production from the Black Swan State Theatre Company’s HotBed Ensemble. With outstanding group work, both from the performers and the creatives, this production showcases the exceptional talent and development of the Ensemble.

English playwright Mark Ravenhill has written a tale about professional jealousy and the lengths artists will go to for their work. A group of struggling artists known as The Group is jealous of an ex -member who has become a successful solo artist. When one of them dies, the famous artist invites them all to her house, the centre piece of which is “the pool, the pool”, that they have heard so much about.

One drunken, drug filled night at the house, the famous artist dives into the pool . . . . Which is drained of water. As she lies comatose in hospital, The Group begins to photograph her supposed descent to death. In a twist she recovers, and once discovering what the group have been up to, takes over.

Ravenhill has written this retrospective piece as one long piece of text, with no character delineation or scene breaks. Director Adam Mitchell and the ensemble have done an excellent job then, to create distinctive characters and scenes, breaking down the realistic speech to manageable pieces and including the occasional dance scenes and stunning visual imagery.

Alicia Clements’ set is minimalistic yet highly effective. A light filled long table is rotated by the cast and alternates as a hospital bed, dance area, and of course, the pool. Trent Suidgeest’s lighting of the table was highly effective, as was his extensive use of side and spot lighting, which often created the atmosphere of each character being separate from one another.

Sound design by Ben Collins and movement by Claudia Alessi rounded off the creative elements. Each was impressive in their own right, and combined with the other creatives, created a visually powerful piece.

The ensemble, made up of Arielle Gray, Natalie Holmwood, Jacinta John, Will O’Mahony and Kazimir Sas (performer Tom O’Sullivan left due to a lead TV role) need to be congratulated for tackling such an unusually written piece of theatre, and turning it into a sensible running narrative with thought provoking themes. One can only imagine the interesting discussions and challenges they faced in the rehearsal process.

Whilst each performer had their own character/s complete with quirks and mannerisms, at various times they all portrayed the famous artist . It was a far more effective portrayal of her than if one person had stayed in her character the whole time.

Pool (no water) is a brilliant production. Shocking? Yes. Thought provoking? Yes. A true ensemble piece? Yes. One to race out and get a ticket for (if there are any left)? Definitely.

Black Swan State Theatre Company and The HotBed Ensemble present
pool (no water)

by Mark Ravenhill

Director Adam Mitchell

Venue: Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA)
Dates: 11 – 27 September
Tickets: Standard $25, Concession $15, Students $15
Bookings: BOCS Ticketing, ph (08) 9484 1133,
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