Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Elden Street Players The Memory of Water

By • Mar 22nd, 2008 • Category: Reviews

Listen to our review of the Elden Street Players’ production of The Memory of Water [MP3 7:35 3.5MB].

The Memory of Water
Elden Street Players
Industrial Strength Theater, Herndon, Virginia
$19/$16 Seniors and Students
Through April 12th

Laura: This is the ShowBizRadio review of The Memory of Water, performed by the Elden Street Players in Herndon, Virginia. Mike and I saw the opening night performance on Friday evening, March 21, 2008.

Mike: This was a pretty good show. It was a little draggy at a couple points; I think that had more to do with the writing. The overall show was pretty good. It did raise some issues about family and what commitment to family is all about. Also memories and memories about their childhood. They had the same incidents, but totally different interpretations.

Laura: This was a good show. It was pretty intense. Although there were some light moments, it was usually pretty hard hitting and, as Mike said, it did bring up some issues about family and sisters getting along and relating to each other. There were some pretty deep moments.

Mike: The Memory of Water is a play by Shelagh Stephenson. It takes place after Vi has passed away and her three adult daughters come back to the house they grew up in for the funeral and to dispose of their mother’s belongings. Each of the daughters has her own issues. They all remember differently how they grew up as well as how each other grew up. There is a lot of conflict that comes to a head during the evening. Some of the memories get shared that had been secrets and some secrets get shared that should have remained a secret.

Laura: Mary, the middle sister who came back to the house to dispose of her mother’s belongings and say her goodbyes, was played by Cassie Lee. She had a good voice and held it together the most throughout the few days all the sisters were there. She had a good scene between her and the oldest sister Teresa, played by Lorraine Magee. She was confronting something that had happened in the past. That was one of the family secrets that came out.

Mike: I couldn’t quite figure out Mary and Teresa. They had such an interesting relationship. I think the two of them played off each other really well. I think that Magee played the role of the martyr very well. She took control and tried to keep them focused by saying, “Look at what I don’t want to do so I’m going to get you to help me.” I really like the relationship between Mary and Teresa. Neither of them would put up with anything. They obviously loved each other, but there was still that tension between them that did come out (I’m not going to share any details about), but it did come out near the end of the show.

I did like the drunk scene that happened near the end of the show. There are a couple ways you can play being drunk, either over the top and slurring your words, or the way Teresa did. It was simply becoming more expressive and did stagger a little bit. She did trip over some furniture at one point, which I think was an accident, but she worked it right in to the scene and it worked great. Her husband Frank, played by Al Fetske kind of took that trying to get the bottle from her, but never really confronted her directly. He was much more resigned to the fact that she was drunk again. That, too, could have been played several different ways: anger, sadness, or fear. He played it as resigned. I think it worked really well. Lots of interesting decisions were made by the director, Melody Fetske, in this show.

Laura: The youngest sister Catherine, was played by Tracy Mullen Cosker. She was the funniest of the three. She was so self absorbed, it was amazing that she even bothered to show up for the funeral. But I’m sure something called her to come say goodbye to her mother. However, the whole time she was there she did nothing but complain about what to wear, what was going on in her life. She had a boyfriend that broke up with her and the woe is me attitude was not over the top. She was serious about it, but came across as really funny.

Mike: The mother, Vi was played by Susan d. Garvey. She appeared at random almost at different points in the show as a vision to Mary. They would have conversations. It was interesting because Vi was not the 75 year old lady who had just died, but a younger version of Vi. She was wearing a bright blue dress with red sparkly high heeled shoes. It made me think of Dorothy, not as bright, but that’s what came to mind. It made me think that the conversation between Mary and Vi, was simply Mary remembering the best parts of her mother. How glamorous her mother was. Now she is dealing with her death versus did that make her, Mary feel worse than she is? Even thought they do not want to admit it, are they comparing themselves to their mother?

Laura: Feel free to talk amongst yourselves now and discuss.

Mary’s boyfriend, Mike, was played by Seth Vaughn. I felt sorry for him. He came in at one of those moments when the sisters were all going at each other. It was like a cat fight. He just stood there and then later wanted to crawl under the bed. He did a pretty good job. He was trying to be supportive, but actually had no clue what was going on. At one point he was telling Mary that she was picking on Catherine who was obviously upset and Mary responded by saying that you haven’t lived here and don ‘t know what’s going on. I thought that was a good scene.

Mike: The set was very unique. The set was designed by Cathy Rieder and Mike Schlabach. The entire set took place in Vi’s bedroom. There was a bed, a wardrobe, a window, one doorway out to the hallway and that was it. The walls instead of being regular walls going up to the ceiling, they kind of faded away and were cut away into a pattern. So you had solid walls that went up anywhere from four to eight feet up. It was kind of in the shape of a coastline. The house was on the coast of some beach in England. It was a plot point that the house was eventually going to be taken over by the water. It was interesting to see that coastline effect. That was definitely thinking outside the box.

Laura: The costumes I thought were very well done. Costumes were designed by Kathy Dunlap. They were kind of representative of the three sisters and their outlook on life. Mary was always wearing the dark clothes, not wanting to dress up or be flashy or anything. She wanted to be very everyday and very sedate. Teresa was also very proper, not showy. Then good ol’ Catherine was the flashy one. Her outfit for going to the funeral servicewas a pretty racy outfit, which I think kind of described how she took on life.

Mike: The Memory of Water is playing at the Industrial Strength Theater in Herndon, Virginia through Saturday April 12. Friday and Saturday nights at 8, Sunday the 30th at 3, Sunday the 6th at 7 and Thursday the 10th at 8. The show ran two and a half hours with one intermission.

Laura: We’d like to invite you to join our free mailing list so that you can stay informed with community theater happenings in the Northern Virginia, DC, Maryland region.

Mike: And now, on with the show.


  • Vi: Susan d. Garvey
  • Mary: Cassie Lee
  • Teresa: Lorraine Magee
  • Catherine: Tracy Mullen Cosker
  • Mike: Seth Vaughn
  • Frank: Al Fetske


  • Producer: Richard Durkin
  • Director: Melody Fetske
  • Stage Manager: John Shea
  • Assistant Stage Manager: Joyce Gillogly
  • Dialect Coach: Glynn Cosker
  • Set Design: Cathy Rieder & Mike Schlabach
  • Assisted by: Melody Fetske, Al Fetske, Richard Durkin, John Shea, Mike Smith, and Marty Sullivan
  • Set Painting Design: Cathy Rieder
  • Assisted by: Sabrina Begley
  • Costume Design: Kathy Dunlap
  • Assisted by: Judy Whelihan
  • Light Design: Jeff Boatright
  • Board operator: Sue Klein
  • Properties: Robin Zerbe
  • Set Dressing: Robin Zerbe & Mike Smith
  • Sound Design: John Shea
  • Board Operator: Mary Ann Hall & Beth Atkins
  • Hair & Makeup Design: Tracy Mullen Cosker
  • Running Crew: Robin Zerbe, Mea Miller, Jarrett Goldfedder
  • House Management: Dave Sinclair
  • Box Office Management: Jeff Boatright
  • Publicity: Rich Klare, Ginger Kohles
  • Cover Design/Playbill: Ginger Kohles
  • Headshot Photos: Jeff Boatright
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2 Responses »

  1. what happens in the scene before Catherines monologue?
    ” God, its bloody cold out there, its like scott of the antarctic …” etc…
    What happens in the play before she says that piece?

  2. Wow, sorry, I don’t remember the script that well, it’s been nearly six months since seeing this play. Sorry we can’t be of more help.