Where the Water Lies - Reviewed by Stanford Reynolds | Regional News Connecting Wellington

Where the Water Lies

Written by: James Ladanyi

Directed by: James Cain

Meanwhile Gallery, 21st Feb 2023

Reviewed by: Stanford Reynolds

In the stark but intimate Meanwhile gallery, the audience is seated on an assortment of borrowed chairs to hear James Ladanyi’s monologue Where the Water Lies. Ladanyi tells us about events in his life – from a date at the beach, a movie night with friends, to watching rugby at the pub. His story highlights the cause and effect that tie these moments together into something more significant, and while at first the pieces of the story are jumbled and unrelated, they come together like a satisfying puzzle. This is underscored by his description of the background of the Rubik’s cube, then solving one on stage after a member of the audience has shuffled it – all while effortlessly continuing in his telling of the story.

A table lamp that flashes different colours and ethereal music to begin and end the show (design by Nino Raphael, direction by James Cain) help to make the most of the simple space, but it is Ladanyi’s energy and connection with the audience that really suck us in. At times he is infectious and dynamic, and at others wistful and nostalgic, balancing changing between these emotions skilfully. While at first the audience is waiting for the point of connecting the pieces to become apparent, and some of the comedic timing gets lost, the structure of the script engages us as the picture Ladanyi is painting comes into focus.

During the show, Ladanyi hangs pieces of art by local artists that reflect ideas in the work, and at the end we are invited to come forward to appreciate them more closely. This is a nice touch, and imparts the feeling that the telling of his story has changed the space.

Where the Water Lies is a personal but relatable story about moments when life decides to happen to us, the cause and effect normally invisible behind events in our lives, and appreciating the coincidences and serendipity this all energises.

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