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New Jersey by Bob Rendell

Rising Water: Provides Apt Metaphor for the Inevitable

Also see Bob's reviews of The Toxic Avenger and Art

Rising Water
Bev Sheehan and Jim Ligon
In this political season, a new play described as being about a married couple stuck in their New Orleans attic in the days after Hurricane Katrina would have to be another re-visiting of the disastrous bungling of the Bush administration, and likely others, in dealing with the tragedy. Or would it? What a pleasant surprise it is to find that, rather than being a rehashed polemic, Rising Water by John Biguenet turns out to be a well written and thought provoking metaphoric drama about marriage, the inevitable disappointments of life, navigating the inevitable constrictions placed on us by advanced age and the final journey on the road to life's inevitable end.

This one-hour, forty-minute, one-act, two-character play begins as Camille, followed by her husband Sugar, clambers up into the attic of their one story clapboard home. The attic is filled with the treasured detritus of their adult lifetime marriage. They bicker over nonsense. They bemoan the betrayal of the failure to build adequate levees. They revive their memories of their joy when they fell in love and got married, and how marriage happily transformed them and their lives. An old story is retold which demonstrates the ever lurking fragility of existence. They reveal that their hopes for their children have congealed into bitter disappointment. Camille and Sug re-awaken something that had almost been forgotten until the inevitable storm: their love for and need of each other.

Camille and Sug struggle to make a hole in the roof for their escape from the rising water. Sug manages to hoist Camille onto the roof, but he is too large to pass all the way through, and ends up stuck with only his head and shoulders jutting out above the roof.

To a considerable extent, we are in bleak Samuel Beckett territory here. Playwright John Biguenet movingly shows us through the eyes of Camille and Sug that there is a pleasure and comfort in this life and in a committed relationship which we may overlook. How sad is the failure to appreciate the tender mercies in even the most limiting circumstances? Still in the end, we are left waiting for ... death.

Under John Pietrowski's sure handed, unobtrusive direction, Beverly Sheehan and Jim Ligon fully bring out all the humanity and individuality with which Biguenet has imbued Camille and Sug. Sheehan delicately reveals an inner beauty, tenderness and loving nature. This makes us feel how lucky Sug has been to have had Camille for his wife, as well as how fortunate we are to have had Sheehan in our presence tonight. Jim Ligon conveys a strong appreciation for Camille in a manner which is a bit brash and restless, and fully in keeping with Sug's personally.

There is a honey of a rotating set by Drew Francis. On one side it allows us to look into the attic. As Camille climbs out of the attic, it rotates to reveal the attic roof.

Rising Water (continues performances - Thursday (except. 10/16), Friday and Saturday 8 p.m.; Sun. 3 p.m.; Additional. Performances Thursday - 10/16-5:30 p.m. & 10/23-3:30 p.m.) through October 26 at Playwrights Theatre, 33 Green Village Road, P.O. Box 1295, Madison, NJ 07940. Box Office: 973-514-1787; online: www.ptnj.org.

Rising Water by John Biguenet; directed by John Pietrowski

Cast
Camille…….Beverly Sheehan
Sug………………..Jim Ligon


Photo: Carol Rosegg


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- Bob Rendell



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