Stephenson's Memory of Water Opens TodayDate: 11 January 1999
Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water arrives in the West End today with a triumvirate of female stars - Alison Steadman, Samantha Bond and Julia Sawalha. The show opens for an open-ended run at the Vaudeville Theatre following a successful UK tour.
The Memory of Water, a comic examination of family life, follows three sisters as they return home for their mother's funeral. Their past is a world of disputed bicycles, injured cats, Mum's cocktail dresses and perfumed advice - a seaside childhood punctuated by the odd monosyllable from Dad. Old scars and rivalries surface and buried family secrets are unearthed.
Alison Steadman is well known for her roles in numerous Mike Leigh stage, television and film productions including Abigail's Party, The Short and Curlies and Life is Sweet. In the West End, her credits include The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Marvin's Room and The Provok'd Wife.
Samantha Bond's theatre credits include, for the RSC, The Winter's Tale and As You Like It and, for the RNT, Le Cid, The Ends of the Earth and, most recently, Amy's View, in which she starred with Dame Judi Dench at the National and in the West End.
Julia Sawalha's theatre credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream and Peter Pan at the Young Vic. She is most famous for her role as daughter Saffron in TV's Absolutely Fabulous, with Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. Other television credits include Pride and Prejudice, Martin Chuzzlewit, Casualty, Press Gang and Inspector Morse. In 1992, she was voted Best Female Performer by the Royal Television Society. Her film credits include In the Bleak Midwinter and The Wind in the Willows.
The three women are joined in the cast by Patrick Drury and Mark Lambert. Terry Johnson - whose Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick, which he wrote and directed, is currently playing at the National - directs, with designs by Sue Plummer.
The Memory of Water premiered at the north London Hampstead Theatre in 1996. In addition to its UK tour, the play has also enjoyed successful runs in Chicago, at the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre, as well as in New York, Munich and Toronto. The Memory of Water is Stephenson's first play. Her second, An Experiment with an Air-pump, was produced by Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre in February 1998 and ran most recently at the Hampstead Theatre. It was joint recipient of the 1998 Peggy Ramsay Award for New Writing. Stephenson is currently under commission to the Hampstead Theatre and the RNT.