My Best Friend Drowned in a Swimming Pool | Project Arts Centre
Star Rating: 2.5/5
My Best Friend Drowned in a Swimming Pool
By: Eva O'Connor
At: Project Arts Centre Cube
Directed by: Sophie Fuller
Starring: Jassy Earl, Daniel Cummins, Eva O'Connor, Jim Connell-Moylan, Robert Newmark-Jones
"There's something appealing about dying in your teens... you get put on a pedestal." So says Henry (Newmark-Jones) whose done just that, the ghost of his memory the only thing that ties those he's left behind together. The first bereavement his young group have faced, their coping mechanisms vary.
Liam (Connell-Moylan) is a messed up bundle of contradictions, a ho(ly)mosexual who has accepted thoughts of cock and Christ into his life, using both to keep potentially unsettling experiences at bay. Eleanor (O'Connor), the love struck 'slut' stalks the dormant Facebook of her unrequited love while hopping into bed with his grieving best friend Conor (Cummins), who used to act like he didn't give a shit and now really doesn't. His bromance has ended with said bro walking into the light at the end of a tunnel and the last thing he wants to do is talk about it. Unlike Chloe (Earl), the teenage widow and prepubescent home wrecker, whose parents are forking out a small fortune for her to see a therapist. He has suggested that the 'friends' need to do something together that doesn't involve the memory of their dead mate. So she's brought along a bag of an unspecified powder for them to snort off of Liam's bible - after first eviscerating him, his sexuality and beliefs. Their trip is from the M. Night Shyamalan school of thought. They see dead people. Or one in particular. Henry, who returns to point out the sorry state his friends appear to be in.
Written and starring O'Connor, the tart tongued script, where Judy Bloom meets Human Traffic, is built around an interesting premise and O'Connor lays some interesting foundations for character development. The problem is that she never builds on them. Instead of taking a moment to explore the conflict between Liam's differing persuasions she turns him into a homily-sprouting prig. For all the chapter and verse he quotes we are never shown just what he derives from this faith nor how he can justify the conflict between them. We are told about Chloe's molestation as if to justify her bitchy behavior but there is no softness anywhere else. Her primary thoughts when Henry reapears are less of his resurrection and more about the hair she cut to mark his passing. While when Eleanor and Conor embark on a no strings sex fling to heal their grief, it's more the shrill reactions than the implications that are dealt with.
O'Connor has put the toxic teenage relationship on the stage, allowing us to feel the shaming, scarring and sobering scythe of the youth. But she has failed to make her characters pass as friends - grieving, distant or other wise. She has fallen into the trap of ramping up the gallows humour instead of exploring the crutches young people turn too to help them through their darkest time and instead of illuminating why they act the way they do she has them shout, scream and mope in ways that makes there
company unbearable. Their treatment of each other is corpse-cold where even the most sanguine souls can see that rigamortis has set into whatever it is they once had. Like the aforementioned resurrection, which pushes the final act into hysteria, it would appear that when it comes to each other, this group should let sleeping dogs lie.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Wednesday 16th May 2012 | Theatre
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