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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Review: ‘A Body of Water’ surfs the surreal in Green Bay

Critic At Large

Evergreen Productions

Program covers. (Warren Gerds)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – There memory plays, and then there is “A Body of Water,” a lack of memory play.

Evergreen Productions community theater of greater Green Bay is adventuring into Lee Blessing’s brain twister in a pop-up kind of space for theater in The Premier, a repurposed factory.

The acting crackles. Director Curt Christnot and the three players are in tune with the diabolical conundrums that relentlessly inhabit the characters and, thus, the audience.

A man and a woman can’t remember much. What is this place they wake up in? Their home? Are they visiting? Who are you? Are we married? What is your name? What is my name?

A third person arrives, a young woman. She is little help. Her tips to what this is all about mostly lead to more questions. Who is she? Why is she here? If we are married, is she our daughter? Murder? Is she our attorney?

A bag full of carrots leads the audience all the way through the play. To get a hold of a carrot, a clue is in the title. Along the way, a phrase is stated – “surrounded by a body of water.” What is surrounding in the story is the lack of memory. Lack of memory is the unstated thing. The play is a way for an audience to experience what it is like to live inside Alzheimer’s. The frustration, the confusion, the mysteries, the inescapable grip, the relentlessness teem in “The Body of Water.” It is a brilliant play of sorts, but oh so challenging, so merciless.

A pleasure in this production is watching the performances.

First, Lyle Becker and Terry Minor intricately maneuver through a morning’s unknowns after their characters awake and, in robes, look for answers about themselves, the other person and the place. A whole lot of nuance is displayed – dicey, comical, intense moments.

After a while, Megan Carpenter joins an adds fuel to all the smoldering questions and joins the acting excellence. She has a way of being diabolical – a grin, an inflection, a fawning touch. In ways, she seems to represent the presence of evil.

In his opening introductions Thursday night, Curt Christnot said the original intent was to present the play online but all the ducks did not line up in a row. Thus, the live presentation with an in-person audience, the first for Evergreen Productions since February 2020. It makes a great difference to live “A Body of Water” in person and feel the surrounding nature of the lack of memory very well portrayed by dedicated participants.

***

Creative: Playwright – Lee Blessing; director – Curt Christnot; set design and construction – Nick Ferry, Michael Gegare, Curt Christnot; lighting and sound – Tricia Adams

Cast:

Moss – Lyle Becker

Avis – Terry Minor

Wren – Megan Carpenter

Running time: One hour, 55 minutes

Repeat performances:7 p.m. June 26, 2 p.m. June 27

***

THE VENUE: The Premier, with an arts-incubator aura, is located at 520 N. Broadway in central Green Bay. The address is a former office/business/industrial-type building that housed such entities as the Larson Co., Birdseye Foods, Kraft Foods and many others during an era as a vein of commerce. “A Body of Water” was performed in one of the spaces with a windowed entrance area leading into an open space with a loft feel with exposed concrete pillars and exposed ventilating system on the ceiling. A few steps up off the street lead to a hallway passing restrooms near the entrance The performance space was improvised for theater. Large windows facing the street are covered temporarily with curtains. Seating is on folding chairs on the cement floor.

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