The Water Principle

The stark image of a lone woman surviving in the woods is more symbol than drama


Through Oct. 19

Tickets are $12-20

(510) 704-8210


Eighth Street Studio, 2525 Eighth St. (between Dwight and Parker), Berkeley

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Eliza Anderson has written one of those formal plays the Shotgun Players put on sometimes that seem cold and oddly placeless. A gaunt, solitary woman called Addie lives in a remote cabin and eats crows caught in traps. An entrepreneur called Weed wants to buy her property and develop the whole region into an amusement park. Addie won't sell. A young stranger named Skimmer arrives, falls for Addie, but also falls for Weed's slick talk. John Thomas' performance as Weed is terrific -- full of energy and life -- and the haunting tug of war between Addie and Skimmer is interesting, as Skimmer convinces Addie to trust him long enough to put down her hatchet. Evren Odcikin has also designed a spare, beautiful set, with a ripped couch and a water barrel and an overhead skeleton of branches to suggest a roof. But the stark image of a lone woman surviving in the woods with her hatchet, not trustin' nobody, is static in the end -- more symbol than drama. Anderson has a sharp ear for voices and an instinct for engaging themes, but her dialogue in this play feels too much like an exercise in Pinter imitation, too patterned and repetitive, like ice crystals.

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