When the Athenians invented and developed the genres of comedy and drama, they initiated a tradition that has led to us feeling uncomfortable about laughing and grieving simultaneosly when watching a play; as if strong emotions can be locked in separate boxes!
Thank God then for tragicomedies, such as the Memory of Water, which was performed by Southfields Theatre Group last week in St Barnabas. I went along for the last night, on Saturday.It was well performed by the principles, who brought out the comedy of pain, whether caused by bereavement, up-bringing, or adult relationships.
Shelagh Stephenson’s play, originally written in 1995, time travelled well because of its universal themes, and I can imagine it being a staple of small theatre groups for many years to come.
Before the production there was some anxiety that the amount of swearing in the play might be inappropriate for a church setting, but recalling that a previous production of Allo Allo, by Cygnet Players, featured swastikas and Hitler impersonators, I was not sure that such a consideration was of major importance. For myself, and for Marjorie Middlecoat, who sat next to me, it was the humanity and heart of the play that mattered most, and we both thought that the language used was in keeping with that spirit.
Bearing in mind that drama came into existence as part of a religious festival, it seems meet that the church now hosts drama- it completes the circle.