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The Wall of Water

by Sherry Kramer

Reading "The Wall of Water" was a bit like watching a romantic comedy. You know it'll end well but you have to get through all the zany antics of the main characters first. Luckily, Kramer's antics were quite entertaining. There are some great female roles in this piece - each with their own blend of "crazy." Naturally this made me think about the art of acting "crazy" .... how difficult it can be not to fall into the trap of playing AT something rather than crafting specific moments that might lend an outsider to think "That person is CRAzy." In a farce it can be especially hard, for there is little to no background information on, for example, why Wendi is emotionally disturbed - there is no information about why this character acts the way she does, instead we just see her acting insane and watch as she slowly comes back to reality. As an actor that is a great amount of freedom - you have the opportunity to create Wendi's entire life up until the start of the play - fill in all those little holes with things that affect YOU. Meg, however, is a little different - we KNOW why she goes crazy.. we watch her journey as she slips from sanity farther and farther into her confusion and frustration. Even the few male characters do not escape without their own zany moments. We've got Gig who literally turns into a God and starts floating up into the sky after eating the "food of the gods" cooked up by Wendi in one of her earlier looney moments. Before he goes immortal though, Gig "falls in love" with Denice, who is really pretending to be Judy. Denice isn't sure how to take this sudden outburst of love and doesn't know what to say. He responds:

WHO DOES!!! Everyone knows the words, but no one knows what to say. That is the paradox of language! All dressed up, and no place to go! That's why an approximate stab at knowing what to say is the best any of us can make.

This makes me think of Chekov and how so often the characters are feeling one thing but saying another, and how true that is of life. How difficult it can be to say what you really feel in the very moment that you really feel it. So many times I come up with the perfect thing to say, later that day or the next day, and how frustrating that is!! So, sometimes it's nice to be told what to say via a script. Although, even then, you have to ask, is that what I'm really feeling? What's underneath this line?

John, Wendi's nurse, has (in my opinion) the best line in the play. As he's consoling Jack, Meg's distraught boyfriend, he says:

Oh, isn't that the way it always is? You can't figure out why in hell everyone is acting like an asshole, and then it dawns on you - YOU'RE THE ASSHOLE! They're acting just fine.

This just made me laugh :)

Thursday Play-a-day: The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee

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