Melbourne Fringe: Black Water

MF19 Forect Collective Black WaterComposed by Jeremy Beck from the novella by Joyce Carol Oates, Black Water is a short opera telling the tragic story of the end of Mary Jo Kopechne’s life. On the night of July 18, 1969, Kopechne was a passenger in a car being driven by U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy.

Kennedy lost control and crashed, leaving the car overturned in a body of water that he later described as “Complete blackness.” Kennedy was fortunate enough to escape, but Kopechne was left behind and her body, still in the vehicle, was found by the next morning.

With Danaë Killian on piano and Kate Bright as soprano, we consider Kopechne’s final minutes. Through the music, song, and brash speech at times in the piece, we shift through time and points of view. But, we always come back to the woman trapped in the car, her desperate plight and hope, and an ever-increasing level of black water.

Danaë and Kate are terrific on stage. Small periods of rest during the piece, where you’d might expect an audience to applaud what they’d just heard, were instead met with awed silence.

There were beautiful moments and choices, whether Danaë rising to reach into her piano to pluck the strings directly, or Kate singing partly into the piano, using the acoustics to give those lines a unique quality.

It all made for a compelling 40 minutes of opera and theatre, a wee gem worth experiencing in the final days of Fringe.

Black Water
Tempo Rubato, 34 Breese Street, Brunswick
Performance: Saturday 28 September 2019 – 7.30pm

Review: David Collins