The Memory of Water, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Two Violists

The Memory of Water

A play that likens memory and water to the relationship between mothers and daughters could probably find a worse home than a city nestled between Puget Sound and Lake Washington and a venue called "Live Girls!" (a theater uniquely dedicated to works by women). In Atlas Theatre's current production of Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water, directed by Chris Mayse, three sisters return to their working-class home on the coast of Western England for their mother's funeral. In the dead woman's dated bedroom, they bicker with one another about events that may or may not have occurred in the past, and reflect on the ways in which their mother shaped their lives. Winner of the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy (the English equivalent of a Tony), The Memory of Water is funny at times, although the humor tends to dissolve into trenchant commentaries that reveal deep-seated resentments between family members. Sickness, imaginary or otherwise, and its links to memory are a constant. The female leads are first-rate, especially Teresa (Christine White) who offers a superb performance as a martyred older sister burdened with caring for a mother afflicted with Alzheimer's. Middle sister Mary (Marguerite Digiovanni) is a doctor consumed with finding a cure for an amnesiac patient, while younger sibling Catherine (Erica Stoddard) hysterically complains of a pain in her side that she presumes to be an ovarian cyst. Female reproductive organs serve as a metophor here: At birth a female baby has approximately 400,000 eggs in her ovaries; present and future progeny momentarily exist like Russian nesting dolls, one inside the other. In this light, playwright Stephenson points to an ongoing feminine history in which love and loss are naturally occurring events in both the physical and emotional realms. Atlas Theatre at LiveGirls!, 2220 N.W. Market St. (Lower Level), 206-679-1565 or Pay what you can on

Thursdays; other performances $8-$10. Various times and days through Nov. 13. SUZANNE BEAL

Pacific Northwest Ballet

Before arriving in Seattle, new artistic director Peter Boal commissioned Mopey for his own company. An innovative work in a more traditional environment, choreographer Marco Goecke combines music by C.P.E. Bach and The Cramps for this solo that has both fascinated and baffled its audiences. Boal contrasts this possible future for ballet with images from its past (George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco, pictured) and more recent present (Jardi Tancat by Nacho Duato and Kent Stowell's Hail to the Conquering Hero) drawn from the PNB repertory. McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St., 206-292-ARTS or $20-$149. Opens Thur. Nov. 3. 7:30 p.m. Thur.-Sat. Also 2 p.m. Sat. Nov. 5, 1 p.m. Sun. Nov. 13. Ends Sun. Nov. 13. SANDRA KURTZ

Two Violists

Charlotte Hug's exploratory techniques for this dark and husky (not to say sexy) instrument include incorporating movement into her scores and wetting, twisting, and overloosening the bow hair to produce multi-voiced whispering sounds, while Melia Watras (pictured) offers some unconventional repertory in her recital, including works by Reger, Kodaly, Robert Mann, and Quincy Porter's Speed Etude. Hug: Gallery 1412, 1412 18th Ave., 206-322-1533 or $5-$15. 8 p.m. Sat., Nov. 5. Watras: Meany Hall, UW campus, 206-543-4880 or $10-$15. 7:30 p.m. Tues., Nov. 8. GAVIN BORCHERT

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