This play is frankly a treasure: a great yarn of psychological medicine, medical science, and old family hurts; revealing, touching, and surprisingly funny. (The title refers to intergenerational influence, via the discovery by French scientist Jacques Benveniste—and later by dozens of replicating experimenters—that the high-“potency” solutions that homoeopathic medicine commonly uses retain detectable physical and medicinal properties of their absent solutes.)
The strength of Rep’s performance lies largely in its players’ consistency. The portrayal was particularly rewarding and interesting of family members compensating for but almost undiscerning of each other’s behaviour. (A later small poll on outstanding players reached inconclusive results, but I found Eliza Bell’s performance as the confused Catherine particularly convincing.)
Costuming was appropriately amusing; set design was straightforward but versatile. There were a couple of short scenes in which the lighting’s odd colour might be unhelpful to some with focusing problems.
I’d like to make special mention of the original music by composer Jonathan McFeat. Melodic and well arranged, it was let down just a little by its electronic instrumentation, too tinny to offer the merest rumour of acoustic instruments. That said, the music so well suited the scenes that it would have been easy to overlook altogether had it not been playing a tad too loud to remain unobtrusive.
Don’t miss this one.
John P. Harvey
The Memory of Water
By Shelagh Stephenson.
Director: Ed Wightman.
Canberra Repertory.Theatre 3, Acton.
3 to 18 August 2012.