Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
A Body of Water
Director Rebecca Bayla Taichman shows a delicate touch as she guides three fine, empathetic actors through Blessing's words: Jerry Whiddon, who retired last season after 20 years as Round House's artistic director; Nancy Robinette, recipient of four Helen Hayes Awards for her elegantly nuanced performances; and award-winning actress Kate Eastwood Norris. The performers seem to float as they move around James Kronzer's sleek, unadorned set, with its modern furniture and strip of windows, in its way as featureless as the initial memories of Whiddon's and Robinette's characters.
The play begins with the man and woman awakening in an unfamiliar house at the top of a hill and surrounded by water, with no idea of who they are or their relationship to each other. A younger woman (Norris) soon enters and attempts to focus their memories, but she keeps changing her story, and in so doing alters the realities they are attempting to comprehend.
Taichman's staging sometimes suggests choreography: the three characters metaphorically dance around each other in their search for something true they can hold onto. Before long, the couple discover that their names are Moss and Avis, and the young woman identifies herself as Wren, but these identifications raise more questions than they resolve.
Whiddon and Robinette have performed together before, most notably in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at Round House. Their many-faceted performances benefit from their comfort with each other; whatever the truth of the situation, Moss and Avis come across as a consistently believable couple, demonstrating an almost subconscious connection. Norris, as the one person who knows what's going on but may not be telling the truth, has a different but equally difficult task; she is not afraid to be abrasive, even upsetting, as the script demands.
The sound design by Martin Desjardins and Matthew M. Nielson and the ever-shifting lighting design of Daniel MacLean Wagner add measurably to the sense of disorientation that the audience shares with Moss and Avis.
Round House Theatre