Wastwater – Simon Stephens

Before you cry, or feel like you have to run away because of the glut of Simon Stephens, allow me to unveil the mystery. When I was in London I bought a number of his plays. That number is 9. I read them all at once and I have some romantic attachment to noting the plays I read in order. So if you hate Mr. S, check back in a couple of weeks. I will be done with his batch by then.

About Wastwater:

Cast: 8 – 3W 4M 1Child. No notes about it in my edition, but the age ranges for the women do not seem particularly conducive to doubling. I think you could get away with it for the men. SS is often open to colorblind, cross-gender and non-gender binary casting, but please consult the rights. The child does not speak.

Run time: Not a clue. Based on length, I would guess 70 minutes. Based on the text I’m positive a director could push it in either direction. There’s spring in it.

Synopsis: Three slice-of-life vignettes that partially overlap in time, place, and connections between characters. Themes: adultery, addiction, human trafficking, the (UK) foster system, independence, aging, trust.

My copy is dog-eared; there are some clever moments in the language that I wanted to return to. Simon Stephens has a clever streak a mile wide. But that doesn’t always carry me along to a dramatic experience I find fulfilling. One of the things I like about Simon is that he is not an all-the-time genius (fallibility in those you admire is so comforting!). And to drag him into a sports metaphor I think he would hate, there are some sweetly, elegant home runs in his canon, but also some pop-up fouls. For me, Wastwater is the latter.


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