As you sit under the Perth sky on a balmy summer evening by the Bold Park Aquatic Centre pool, you know you are about to witness a unique evening of theatre.
As you enter the bleachers around the pool to find a position to sit, you are handed a set of headphones. Settle in as the chorus completes laps in the pool and the night stars shine through a canopy of trees.
The Pool redefines the boundaries of traditional theatre as the actors in this production are effectively performing on a stage fifty metres long! Director Kate Champion ensures the audience is drawn to the action pool side through simple gestures and stances.
The production written by Steve Rodgers allows the audience the opportunity to eavesdrop on various conversations around the pool. A young couple who have wagged school, two housewives, a drug addict and her parents and a woman with a lifelong disability share their stories while spending the day by the pool.
Overseeing all of this are two lifeguards who help navigate the various tales. From the moment Joel Jackson enters the pool area he commands attention. Not an easy feat given the size of the stage. He plays Kirk, the lifeguard and swimming coach with conviction. At one point you’re not sure if he is indeed one of the lifeguards hired for the evening.
His interaction with recovering drug addicted daughter, Joni, played by Emma Jackson, as he teaches her to swim, is heartfelt and inspiring. Jackson as the daughter guides the audience beautifully through a tale of addiction and healing.
Real life stories are weaved through the fiction in the script as Carys Munks inspiringly enlightens the audience on what it is like to live with a lifelong muscle weakness disability that affects the left side of her body. Julia Moody and Polly Low as Val and Greta, share tales of wanting to belong in the modern world as two aging housewives.
The production relies on profound soliloquies performed by various actors to draw the audience into the various tales. Throughout the night the Chorus perform inspiring aquatic movements that adds to the emotional recount of various characters lives.
At the heart of all the tales is a community. A community where people come together to dive, splash and swim to revive, heal and stimulate their souls.
At the end of the production, members of the audience are able to enter the pool and participate in a water aerobics session. It looked like great fun and I wish I had been brave enough to join in. If you wish to take part you can register via the Black Swan website.
The Pool is a distinctively emotional production. Don’t miss your chance to witness something remarkably original and uplifting.
Bold Park Aquatic Centre, 215 The Boulevard, Perth
Performance: Sunday 11 February 2024
Season continues to 25 February 2024
Information and Bookings: www.blackswantheatre.com.au
Image: Tobias Muhafidin and Chorus in The Pool – photo by Daniel J Grant
Review: Craig Dalglish
Note: As you are sitting outdoors in a concrete stand, it is a good idea to take low chairs or cushions, mosquito repellent and a light jacket. Picnics and BYO are not allowed; however, drinks and food are available before the show.