Leigh Hatts

Water Sculptures and Zoo at the Union Theatre

A double bill by Dawn King has three trapped humans and three trapped animals looking to the future.

Water Sculptures and Zoo at the Union Theatre

Water Sculptures is very well cast with three characters reflecting in August 2012 on the just opened Olympic Games. The weather is hot and London feels on show and good. The national flags fluttering in the breeze impress Ryan, played by Luke Owen, who works in a Croydon office. There staff are glued to the television coverage.

Athlete Jo, played by slim Rebecca Kenyon, looks really fit as she recalls her years of training. Only success seems possible. Kumar, played by Shash Lall-Williamson, is an artist finding sucess and also dreaming of coming recognition.

Suddenly the Lee Valley is hit by a mega flood forcing these three characters together at the top of a building. They are not the only survivors but as with small groups in disaster-hit Burma today they are not priority for the emergency services.

Jo is recognised as famous by Ryan and Jo recalls reading about Kumar's controversial art. The flood means disaster for Jo robbed of a race and Kumar who sees his artworks disappear into the water. But Ryan has been robbed only of a boring job. There is frustration, hurt and flashes of optimism which means that they don't sit around waiting for ever.

The play is preceded by another Upstart Theatre company production called Zoo. This is set in a closed zoo during another national emergency which has seen the city's population drop. The best actors are the three animals who with a minimilist stage have a huge task in conveying the idea of caged creatures.

They are required to make animal noises, remain on stage and in character all the time and only occasionally speak. Martin Pirongs is a great tiger along with Nathalie Pownall as a nut-eating slow loris and Jenny Harrold as a chimp happy for freedom. The animals have the last word.

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