This production of pool (no water) at The Royal Scots Club takes the plunge and lands surprisingly well. A cohort of artists are enthralled with their prior member and her pool – the piece is an exploration into the dire and disgusting nature of the bohemian, after the woman (for we only ever know her as the distant ‘she’) they are obsessed with has a terrible accident. A raw and yet ridiculous story is elevated by the performers of The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group, who stretch its narrative to its limit.
This four-man spectacle explodes across the stage, at points feeling more like a spoken word piece than a play – the lack of distinction in the script between each of the characters allows for thoughts to be expressed elegantly, without the constraints of a name or a backstory to stunt their growth. There is a physicality to the group’s humour and a sense of wildness to how they perform. Though they do need time to find their feet, by the end of the play they are pushing all the right buttons to bring the piece to a delightful climax.
Vivid, vocal and often crude comedy undercuts what is at points a much too dark and gritty story. The production attempts to explore the idea of meaning within art and human corruption in the face of jealousy, which is limited somewhat by the conceited tone of the script. The set also leaves something to be desired, but the childishness of the props plays along well with the overall tone of the play. At points, the soundscape seems thrust into place, yet the lighting is wonderful, twisting the craze of a drug and booze-fuelled party into a psychedelic nightmare in all the best ways.
Despite some shortcomings, pool (no water) tackles its subject matter quite competently, and where the story seems to thin its performers manage to effortlessly fill in the gaps. They take their seats around the table adorned with copious amounts of alcohol as we leave, pulling up their tacky sunglasses to their eyes, a final reminder that we will all return to what we came from – and that, for some, there will always be a little bit of darkness left in our hearts.