Regional Reviews: Phoenix
Water for Breakfast
Water for Breakfast focuses on a group of five female teachers, all of whom will have some mystical or supernatural experience happen to them over the weekend that the play is set. The plot begins when the women are having lunch on a Friday afternoon and talking about recent events in their lives and their weekend plans. Madison (Angelica Saario) is having problems with her stepmother and is thinking about moving out from the stressful experience of living with her and her father. The mother of Jess (Courtney Ekstrom) has a drinking problem but Jess is too ashamed to mention anything about it to her co-workers. Joy (Juliet Rachel Wilkins) is excited as she's just gotten engaged, even though she barely knows the man, while Avery (Itzel Romero) is expecting her boyfriend to propose any day. Deb (Charlotte Strayhorne) likes being single and is looking forward to a quiet weekend at home with plans to go through some old books to decide which ones to sell. While all five women are expecting a fun or relaxing weekend, there are plenty of strange occurences in their immediate future.
Perovich has done a wonderful job ensuring that the dialogue is specific for each character as well as natural sounding and that it flows realistically. The pacing of the play, and how the scenes move back and forth between the different characters, perfectly builds momentum and makes you intrigued as to what will happen next. While all five stories have fairly good endings, the ending of the play itself, as well as a couple of folk tales that are told in the piece, could use more clarification. After the buildup of the individual stories, and seeing how they expertly weave in and out of each other, the ending was a bit anticlimactic. However, it's nice that Perovich's style of writing is fresh and unlike anything of his I've seen in the past.
While the ASU Kerr Cultural Center isn't exactly the best venue for a live theatre production, due to the main seating area having a couple of large poles that obscure parts of the lower stage, and another seating area perched high up on a second floor on one end of the venue, Ilana Lydia's direction worked well to mirror the intrigue and mystical elements in the script. Her cast was perfect, each one playing numerous parts and making them all distinct by simply changing their body language and style and tone of speech, and using a few pieces of clothing to morph from one individual to the next. It truly seemed like there were more than five actresses, due to how well each played their multiple roles. The direction and cast also effortlessly moved between the humorous, dramatic, and somewhat horrific scenes that Perovich baked into the play. Chris Frank's set and lighting designs worked well to delineate the various locations in the play, and Riley Reed's clear costume design helped to quickly distinguish the wide range of characters, both female and male, that the five actresses played. Chris Piraino's sound design provided some eerie effects; however, the repeated use of a piece of musical underscore for many of the scene changes showed a lack of variety.
With dozens of theatres in town presenting many of the same shows over and over again, it's nice to see a new intriguing play by an established local playwright like Perovich. It's also nice that there are a few theatre companies, including B3 Theater, who are a hub in presenting new works. I look forward to seeing more new plays by Perovich and from B3 in the future.
Water for Breakfast played from May 27-29 at B3 Theater at the ASU Kerr Cultural Center, 6110 N Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale AZ. For information on future productions from B3 Theater, visit B3Theater.com.
Written by John Perovich
Jess, Charlie, Dougie: Courtney Ekstrom