Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thinking Cap Theatre: Pool (No Water) (reviews)

ThinkCAP PoolThinking Cap Theatre opened its production of Pool (No Water) at the Muse Center for the Arts on February 21, 2014

Mark Ravenhill’s one-hour play about a group of old friends and fellow artists who gather to recount the story of their most celebrated friend, her successes, failures, and the horrific accident that altered her life and theirs. As she struggles to survive, her friends show their true colors by shaping an unthinkable plan under the guise of empathy and art. Will her suffering become their masterpiece? Where is the line between art and exploitation? Dive into a world of envy, intrigue, regrets and reconciliation.

Nicole Stodard directed a cast that included Hannah Citrin, Casey Dressler, Niki Fridh,  Noah Levine,  Desiree Mora,  Miles Smith and Scott Douglas Wilson.


Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:

The jealousy, ego and unbridled schadenfreude that exist in any normal human being seem to be intensified among the rarefied spirits we call artists – at least that seems to be thrust of Mark Ravenhill’s droll little satire, Pool (No Water) enjoying a hoot of an outing thanks to Thinking Cap Theatre in Fort Lauderdale.

The script is essentially a bare bones monologue and artistic director Nicole Stodard has invented a wry tone and an intriguing vision for the piece.

She has split up the lines among seven people to create a cross between the chorus of a verse play and all those narrators in The Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby. The conceit of a supposedly tight knit “group” works perfectly with members chiming in a smooth narrative that they have told before…

It helps that the actors are mostly veterans of Thinking Cap’s pointedly alternative vision of experimental and thought-provoking plays produced on a shoestring budget. Each actor creates an individualized character and each is especially funny as storytellers imitating the voice and attitude of their nemesis, the successful artist. Miles Alexander, Hannah Citrin, Casey Dressler, Desiree Mora and Niki Fridh all work together seamlessly, but the standouts are Scott Douglas Wilson simply because of his larger-than-life brio and Noah Levine as an effeminate drug-addicted aesthete.

Pool (No Water) fits in perfectly with(Thinking Cap’s) vision. It really is a trifle, but it’s still an thoroughly entertaining diversion worth seeing that gleefully bulldozes over the boundaries of traditional theater.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:

Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water) is the sort of play that isn’t often produced in South Florida, a place where conventional theater forms rule.  But Fort Lauderdale’s Thinking Cap Theatre and founder-artistic director Nicole Stodard are all about risk-taking and artistic challenges. So the fact that Thinking Cap is launching its 2014 season with pool (no water) is impressive — the play is quite challenging for a director, actors and audiences — but hardly a surprise.

While the hour-long story is specific, its telling is fluid and abstract, requiring more from the actors and a concentrating audience. This is an ensemble piece, but you will notice and appreciate particularly vivid moments created by Wilson, Levine and Fridh.

Certainly, pool (no water) isn’t every theatergoer’s cup of tea. But those intrigued by boundary-stretching, intellectually provocative drama may find themselves intrigued by Stodard’s solution to Ravenhill’s puzzle.

Michelle F. Solomon wrote for Miami ArtZine:

Artistic Director Nicole Stodard’s production doesn’t only grow in the space of its 55 minutes, but surpasses what writer Mark Ravenhill probably envisioned when he arrived at his oddball dramatic structure.

Stodard’s imprint is all over the piece and it’s vibrantly wonderful to participate in the vision. She uses an artist space at Fort Lauderdale’s Muse Center for the ARTs, where the smell of oil paint wafts through the air, giving the environment an authenticity as a backdrop. Not a theater space by any means, her production team has rigged lights and music to wonderful effect.

Her ensemble is connected at its core, which is so crucial to the success of how the piece is constructed. Miles Alexander, Hannah Citrin, Casey Dressler, Niki Fridh, Noah Levine, Desiree Mora, and Scott Douglas Wilson, melt into one another, never dropping a beat. It’s thrilling to watch their tossing of lines to each other , almost like a game of hot potato with dialogue. A true ensemble, there are no standouts in this production (all are equally compelling), as each actor understands the nature of the piece.

Thinking Cap Theatre  presents Pool (No Water) at the Muse Center for the Arts through March 8, 2014

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