pool (no water) Dives Into Envy

The unexpected hazards of a nice house
Scott J. Fetterman

Resentment is one seriously nasty byproduct of art-world success—not for the rare thriving artist but for still-struggling friends who get left behind and jealous. That festering envy—which can turn the famous and fortunate into tortured victims—lies at the (almost) homicidal heart of Mark Ravenhill’s 2006 play pool (no water), performed ensemble-style by One Year Lease Company. A nameless top-selling artist who left the city for a large house with palm trees, servants, and—yes—a pool, invites a handful of her old creative pals to visit; a terrible accident leads her peers to combine caregiving with horrifying revenge.

pool makes a memorable tale, full of insight into the desperation and insecurities that sometimes drive the artistic sector. Ravenhill’s engaging text does not assign dialogue to specific characters: five actors take turns speaking from the houseguests’ various points of view. Director Ianthe Demos puts her nimble narrators in continuous motion on a nearly bare stage; the movement is overstated and busier than it needs to be, but the storytellers admirably command each tableau. At the drama’s dark conclusion, they finally slow down and ease up, allowing us a long moment to contemplate just how destructive creative types can be.

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