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"A Body of Water" at Primary Stages, 59E59 Theaters
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"A Body of Water" at Primary Stages, 59E59 Theaters

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Studio 57 Fine Arts

Museum Quality Framing
211 West 57th Street
New York, NY 10019

Mon. - Sat. 10 AM - 8 PM
Sun. 12 Noon - 6 PM
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Primary Stages Presents:
A Body of Water

By Lee Blessing
Directed by Maria Mileaf
Primary Stages
59E59 Theaters
59 East 59th Street

With: Michael Cristofer
Christine Lahti
Laura Odeh

Lighting: Jeff Croiter
Sets: Neil Patel
Costumes: Candice Donnelly
Original Music and Sound: Bart Fasbender
Casting: Stephanie Klapper Casting
Production Supervision: PRF Productions
Production Stage Manager: Larry Ash
Director of Marketing: Shanta Mali
Associate Artistic Director: Michelle Bossy
Landscape Paintings: Timothy Arzt
Press: O&M Co.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 17, 2008

The true star of this amnesia-like play, by Lee Blessing, is Timothy Arzt, whose landscape murals surround the Primary Stages set with a languorous river and foliage, much more inviting to imagine than the plodding, purposeless plot. Mr. Blessing has, over several years, created and re-created a scenario that resembles Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”, without the existential depth and thought-provoking lines. Like “Waiting for Godot”, Moss (Michael Christopher) and Avis (Christine Lahti), speak and pause, though with agonizing dialogue, in an effort to discover the meaning of their existence. The spirituality that seems force-fed into the plot revolves around the characters’ names, that mesh with the surroundings, Avis, Latin for bird, Moss, and Wren (Laura Odeh). Wren is the third character that may be the daughter or lawyer of Moss and Avis, if only Moss and Avis could remember anything, just anything, from before they went to sleep and woke entwined in bed, not knowing themselves or each other.

The intermission-less play (good thing) is set in a luxurious summer home, “recently”, and Moss and Avis have some probing dialogue and antics (she probes his body, with tongs, for “anything” that’s familiar, and he peeks at hers, all within their bathrobes, their shield from the audience). When Wren bounds into the scene, young and energized, the plot seemed to be moving toward meaning, but no, the plot became ever smokier. Wren claimed she was their lawyer, protecting them from prosecution for their daughter’s murder, the shock of which had put them both into lapsed memory. Then Wren switched personalities and said she was their daughter, just using shock therapy to awaken their minds. And then, and then…the conclusion was elusive, and the audience leaves, not with inspiration or insight, but with foggy frustration, as if a final scene had been cut.

Christine Lahti is a captivating actor, with a gym-fit physique and dynamic presence. She seemed above the persuasive performance, poised for her next, more conceptualized role. Michael Christopher has engaging qualities and deserves sharper dialogue. Laura Odeh was appropriate to her more complex character. Maria Mileaf, Director, managed to inject humor and warmth into a bleak, meandering script. Again, Neil Patel’s use of Timothy Arzt’s murals, as lush backdrops, was, for this viewer, the highlight of the evening. At least I had something lovely to look at, while I “waited for Godot”. Check out the Primary Stages current and upcoming schedule here.

Christine Lahti
Courtesy of O&M Co.

Laura Odeh
Courtesy of O&M Co.

Michael Christopher
Courtesy of O&M Co.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at