BCP’s choice for their summer production this year was Shelagh Stephenson’s The Memory of Water, a tale of three sisters who return home for their mother’s funeral.
They certainly were diverse characters. Catherine the youngest who can’t find a man to settle with and compensates by smoking drugs and shopping with money she doesn’t have.
Helen Williams grabbed this part by the throat and completely made it her own. A good interpretation of a role that is complicated with a mixture of self-depreciation, pathos and hilarity, Helen completely mastered it.Trish Thompson played the eldest sister Teresa. On the surface she was the most stable of the three. Pretty soon it is demonstrated she has a darker side born of envy for her successful doctor sister Mary.
Teresa is on her second husband, Frank, played by Jem Turner, an unambitious sole forced to travel the globe peddling the health care products he doesn’t believe in.Teresa has a big drunk scene, which is far too long and doesn’t quite convince. Teresa staggered around the stage swigging from a whisky bottle but her words were not at all slurred and all delivered at the same pace and tone. Strange, but there you are.The main protagonist in the piece is Mary, superbly played by Claire Taylor. A professional presentation by any standards. Claire completely pulled off the interpretation of the successful hospital doctor whose life was being overcomplicated by an affair with a married television doctor, Mike, played by Rob Hall.

The Memory of Water is a long play, perhaps too long, and commendations should be given out to the players who mastered their dialogue, I only spotted one very slight hiccup in the whole play. Pity though about the bad language but that I guess is the age we live in.

The play has some very funny parts. I especially liked the scene where the three girls don their Mother’s dresses and stride around singing ‘Pretty Woman’. Excellent. Also the showing of the flickering old family holiday films at the start of the pay was pure inspiration.

If there is a criticism of the production, I found most of the characters spoke their lines at the same pace. By this I mean there was little difference to be noticed when they were angry, sad, happy hysterical, et al.
This was particularly apparent when at the end Mary realised she has been wasting her time with Doctor Mike, as he has no intention of leaving his wife. A raising of the voice or a good slap across the face would have been a fitting and apt end to the scene but as it was I found it petered out a tad.

There is one poignant scene where Mary discovers her illegitimate son Patrick, born when she was just 14, died some years ago. A fact kept from her by Teresa. Mary had been making plans to look for him after perhaps realising the cad Mike didn’t want any more children than those he had with his wife. The swine had also had a vasectomy and hadn’t told Mary, and here she was at 39 on the final lap towards possible motherhood. The man was clearly a rotter.

The dead mother Vi did make make several appearances either as a ghost or figment of Mary’s imagination. It was up to you to decide.
The spirit was played by Patricia Lee who started off a little shakily but improved as time went on, though her moves throughout did seem to me a little awkward.

In all another ace production from Banbury Cross Players and marked the directorial debut of BCP stalwart Tara Lacey. Much admiration must go to her for taking on such a long and demanding play for her first outing as Director.

The set was adequate, although again BCP don’t seem to do detail on their sets. Surely on a bedroom wall of someone such as Vi there would have been a picture or photograph or two to help create the aura and if you are going to open a coffin on stage supposedly containing a corpse, make sure there is a body in there.

Lance Bassett.