Pool (no water)

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group
The Royal Scots Club – until August 10th
3 Stars (3 / 5)

It is perverse, it is hilarious, it is… true.

One girl in a group of artists makes it and becomes famous. Friendships are of course over immediately, but it would not be proper to say it out loud… So feigned, glowy, hearty chats on social occasions continue, and even lead to an invitation for four remaining members of the group to visit her at her luxurious house with a pool. 

The pool becomes a symbol of success, accomplishment and consuming jealousy. It is a place where we spend time with friends and let calming water to spoil our heating bodies with its coolness. But if this is all fake, just as you can see presented in these relationships, peaceful water disappears and we can see cracks on the bottom of the pool, mould in the corners and if we try to jump and dive in… well, something breaks. This time it was the famous one, whose bones literally broke into pieces. 

The famous girl does not show up at all. We only hear about her via narration of her bitter once-friends. What her body looked like is not hard to imagine, it is not the even interesting bit  – we know that from TV crime series anyway… The fascinating part is the reaction of the others. They cannot forgive her luck, talent, success, fame. They are disgusted, shocked and ecstatic. In a that single moment they win justice. Her disfigured, bruised body in the hospital bed looks like a pure work of art. So they act. Pull out a camera and start to take pictures.

She heals, and with their pictures of her body makes plans on how to turn all it all into an art exhibition. Who has the rights of the pictures now, hm? The resentment of the four turns them against their own work, and pushes them to destroy it. 

The script is written without indication of which lines are assigned to which character. One long monologue. However, EGTG managed to create four individual characters who all together present the archetype of a bitter rancorous artist. They are all the same, but it is such fun to watch these four variations of one collective character – dandy gay, vulgar junkie, dark-souled barbie, and a zen hippy with foul-mouthed deviations. 

Director (Abbey Eva) and performers (Debi Pirie, Steven Croall, Ross Cairns, Eilidh McLaughlin) pinpoint the moments when perversion overlaps with humour and made us laugh at the disgusting thoughts that pop up in different forms, and in our own heads from time to time. 

One of the most popular in-yer-face genre dramatics, Mark Ravenhill, wrote Pool (no water) in 2006 with a happy-end (I guess) – all the characters decided to leave their bohemian lifestyle and try to be ‘normal’. But would it have this kind of end if it was written nowadays, when everything is online and immediately available?