The sound of dripping water, a cold lifeless clawfoot bath tub and three worn out wedding dresses lay silent on stage. These eerie, unsettling sights are what audiences are first introduced to at “The Drowning Girls” now playing at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities.
“The Drowning Girls” follows the story of the Brides of the Bath murders from the early 20th century. The story is told from the perspective of the brides in the afterlife.
Each bride, Bessie, Alice and Margaret, have their own bridal story about how they met and lived with the man who would eventually go on to kill all three of them.
The Canadian team of playwrights that bring this world to life have created a true masterpiece. Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalic have created a dark comedy that is rare in modern theater. The show features an all female cast. “The Drowning Girls” is about women taking back their life or perception of life.
This amazing cast acts out the life of their murderer and how along the way they face their identities of being unmarried women and how the need and desire to be married cost them their lives in the long run.
This need is where the show garnishes its power. Because of the social environment that they are living in, the need for them to get married creates a dilemma. They either must marry this man under poor circumstances or be socially outcasted. Kate Gleason (Margaret), Jessica Robblee (Bessie) and Emily Van Fleet (Alice) all show that emotion and distress through their portrayal of these characters.
The true stand out of the three actors was Robblee. Her portrayal of Bessie was engaging and entertaining the entire way through. Robblee pulled off a sensational scottish accent and switched around to others when the story called for it.
Half of the thrill came from the creative team. Brian Mallgrave used the Black Box space in unique ways by adding a pool of water in the stage with the three iconic clawfoot tubs. Jon Olson’s lighting design shimmered off the pool of water and immersed the audience.
The addition of working shower heads above tub almost made the water into another character. As a representation of their husband, the shower heads were able to pour water, oppressing the brides when they felt too much joy and being an antagonist for the brides to battle throughout the show.
This regional premiere has enough heart, life and plenty of water to satisfy any audience.
“The Drowning Girls” *** (out of four stars)
This titillating show is now at the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities 6901 Wadsworth Blvd, Arvada, CO 80003. Directed by Lynne Collins. Starring Kate Gleason, Jessica Robblee and Emily Van Fleet. Now playing through May 21. For tickets visit aravadcenter.org.
The Arvada Center offers rush tickets (based on availability) for most Main Stage and Black Box Productions. Tickets go on sale the Monday before the production. Info at https://arvadacenter.org/search/?q=rush+tickets