Orange Theatre Theatre, London – until 12 November 2022
The Solid Life of Sugar Water is an exceptionally strong 75-minute performance from two highly emotive passionate actors. Alice (Katie Erich) and Phil (Adam Fenton) met in the Post Office queue and started talking. While there, Phil has an untimely accident with his oversized “exploding” box of risque items he is sending to his brother.
Jack Thorne’s writing has bought to the stage the devastating reality faced by some pregnant woman who experiences the rare condition of an antepartum haemorrhage. Through the superb performance by Erich the horrors of giving birth to a dead child and rendered helpless as she cannot hear the surgeon or lipread as he is too close. Fear, anger and excruciating pain become the audience’s reality as you are drawn into her harrowing enactment.
Thorne’s writing delves deep into the depths of the heartbreak and agony that this condition subjects the bereaved families to. Adapting the play to bring a fresh and dynamic approach using two extremely talented disabled actors.
There is a visible strong working relationship between the two actors. From the moment they begin their performances they respectfully finish each other’s sentences, and affectionately touch one another when reflecting on their first meeting and the sensitive glances across the stage. Naturally falling into the role of a couple dealing with daily life, an openly discussed sex life and the joint trauma of losing a child during the eighth month of pregnancy.
Director Indiana Lown-Collins uses Alice’s deafness to create a powerful scene after the loss of the baby. She removes her hearing aid and angrily uses sign language to express her feelings of being abandoned by Phil in her darkest hour. When she desperately needs to feel loved and wanted he is knowingly distanced from her. Removing Alice away from the stage and leaving Phil in darkness on the bed for the first time throughout the performance, the couple is grieving separately whereas before they were united on everything.
For further information about this performance and future plays at the Orange Tree Theatre please use the link below.
Photo credit Ellie Kurttz