Shelagh Stephenson’s Dark Comedy THE MEMORY OF WATER Shines at Hampstead — Review

Adam James, Laura Rogers, Carolina Main (lying down), Lucy Black, and Kulvinder Ghir | Photo: Helen Murray
Katie Dye
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September 14, 2021 9:15 PM

On paper, The Memory of Water seems like a sombre affair, it follows three sisters as they are reunited for their mother’s funeral and examines their relationships with each other and with their significant others. While the premise may seem dark, I can fully assure you that playwright Shelagh Stephenson’s work is anything but. The humor, while pitch black at times, is so sorely needed to prevent the show from becoming an overly emotional sobfest. That’s not to say that the topic is treated too flippantly. Instead, the play expertly appeals to the emotions in just the right way - comic to get you through it while being poignant enough to make you (or at least definitely me) cry.

Lucy Black, Carolina Main, and Laura Rogers, who play the three sisters were each spectacular in their own right — perfectly weaving together comedy and melancholy. Their chemistry was impeccable as they played bickering siblings to a T. They were incredibly convincing and I enjoyed watching them play off of each other. Their arguments with each other were deliciously explosive; it seemed like they had known each other for decades and made jabs at each other in only the way that your sister can. Or at least I’m assuming that’s what happens as I don’t have any first-hand experience with having a sister.

The set, by Anna Reid, was a perfect fit. All the action takes place in their deceased mother’s bedroom and the set is a perfect time capsule to a bygone era, with questionable wallpaper and blue carpeting. 

All in all, the Hampstead Theatre’s The Memory of Water was objectively fantastic. Family dramas are not quite my personal cup of tea yet I still got a lot of enjoyment out of the performances. Highly recommend!

"The Memory of Water" plays at the Hampstead Theatre through October 16, 2021. For tickets and more information, visit here.

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Katie Dye

Katie Dye is based in London and has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Central Florida, a JD from Tulane Law School, and is currently working on an MA in Arts and Cultural Management from King’s College London. Perhaps more importantly, she started her entertainment career as a theatre tech at Universal Orlando’s Horror Make-Up Show and has since amassed nearly a decade of experience in the industry in tech, talent, legal, front of house, and ice rink maintenance capacities.