REVIEW: COLDER WATER (Theatre N16) ★★★★★

Colder Water and TWIX are two stories written by the brilliant Laurie Ogden.

Colder Water tells the story of a group of four young people, (Ellie, Louise, Allie and Allie’s brother James), who enter a restaurant and order two bottles of wine.

Wine consumption proves a point of contention within the group because Louise, is pregnant. James, an outsider to the trio of friends, seems almost overly concerned about the unborn baby’s health. Why is James there anyway? As the wine consumption becomes more and more of an issue, the discussions bring out a secret that would have been better left unrevealed.

This is a short one act play, which takes place in a single room, yet manages to highlight so many contemporary dilemmas. From the purely practical question of how much alcohol it is safe for a pregnant woman to consume to her moral right to ultimately make the decision for her self. The story is however not just about health.

James, an ex public school boy, is totally self obsessed and has no empathy for the pregnant woman. Too emphatic, too cock sure of himself and living off of his father’s money. He has no concept of when he should shut up and keep his opinions to himself. His character is almost irritatingly Shakespearean. The women are more subtly drawn characters. Their humanity makes a fine counterbalance to the brother’s bull headed bluntness.

Colder Water is funny but with a serious heart. It is beautifully written and the dialogue is literate, interesting and thoroughly convincing.

Jess Reed plays Louise in a natural, understated way which is totally believable. Sam Gibbons plays the irritatingly belligerent James, excellently. Ally, James’s sister, is played by Alice Brittain who, like the rest of the cast, is perfect. Then we come to fourth member of the quartet, Laurie Ogden. Laurie is talented to a ridiculous degree. Not only does she act wonderfully but she wrote the whole play too.

The audience were rightly appreciative, it is a very good play and is highly recommended.

TWIX tells the story of two brothers, each very different from the other, who live together in an untidy bachelor flat. The elder brother, Jamie, has a working class mentality and is practical and grounded. The younger brother, Henry, is an academic university student. The play features Jamie’s attempts at obtaining enough money to live on and to make things better for his brother. Although the play has a lot of humour the core of the story is serious and the unusual staging is fascinating.

Reviewed by Graham Archer