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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Three Sisters Before a Funeral

A comedy of social relations

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The theater's nature as a highly social art form can mean delightful things for plays focusing on social relations between characters. British playwright Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water is a compelling look at the social interactions between three sisters surrounding the funeral of their mother. Soulstice Theatre stages a thoroughly satisfying production of the dark comedy.

Directed by talented actor David Ferrie, Soulstice’s staging orchestrates subtle and intricate moments between the three sisters, which feel fluid and organic. Amy Hansmann summons a clever intellect to her performance as middle sister Mary, a doctor having an ill-advised affair with Mike—a married man who is also a doctor—played here with substantial charisma by Andrew Riebau. Jillian Smith plays the eldest sister, a woman who sells health supplements. Smith is a bit high strung until the events of the drama wash over her, allowing her to play something altogether more playful. Amber Smith is subliminally narcotic in the role of youngest sister, Catherine, who has a refreshingly casual wild side to her. When things take a swing for the worse in her mood, she is able to pull the character's momentum in an endearingly vulnerable direction.

Any audience has to conspire with a production to complete the emotional illusion of a play. This can be difficult where characters know each other far better than the actors playing them. Ferrie and the core cast of Hansmann, Smith and Smith do a good job of lending that delicately crafted sense of familiarity between characters that have grown up together. This production feels very much like hanging out with three very interesting sisters.

Soulstice Theatre's production of The Memory of Water runs through May 18, at 3770 S. Pennsylvania Ave. in St. Francis. For tickets, call 414-481-2800.

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