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THE WAY OF WATER Illuminates with Urgent Compassion

by Claudia Acosta

The Way of the Water introduces two simple southern, American fishermen holding patiently for the day’s loot on a lake by the gulf.  This town in the Plaquemines Parish of Louisiana is small.  New sudden deaths and sickness haunt the town as its people are being poisoned by the chemicals in the water.   Their wives are doing the best they can by their sides until Jimmy Robichaux’s mysterious symptoms can no longer be ignored.  The friendship of the two couples runs long and deep.  His wife, Rosalie finds strength in her ways and in their loyal friends Neva and Yuki Skow, expecting their first child while managing an alcoholic past.   This friendship and their bonds as men and wives live as the heart of the story in a tragic time when the gulf, ravaged by the historic BP oil spill in 2010 has left a deadly aftermath against a fledgling south barely recovering from hurricanes, chemical devastation and sheer poverty. 

Ensemble Studio Theatre‘s staged reading at Memberfest on May 29, 2012 resonated truth with delicate but compelling and compassionate fervor accomplished by a seasoned cast.  Under the tight direction of Jose Zayas, Caitlin McDonough-Thayer bubbled as the resilient and tenacious Rosalie; Elizabeth Rich as Neva, Yuki’s wife, was the calm and steady water for them all. Actors, A.Z. Kelsey and Bobby Plasencia created  lively buoyancy to each other’s opposing personalities, balancing each other as the fiery but ailing Jimmy Robichaux and the gold-hearted and loyal Yuki Gonzalo Skow.  As the poisoned water leaks into their lives eating away at their living and futures, a protest against the cause of it all surfaces in their own ways testing bonds and proving how love and friendship can help endure the most difficult of times.  

Not unlike, The Grapes of Wrath which details a tragic history of an American family surviving the Great Depression;  Caridad Svich writes a play that paints a moving and relevant portrait of a community, a family, a bond of friendship that struggles to fight against a very present danger of our ecosystem being destroyed by an irresponsible oil industry.   The gulf is dying and the treatments are not cleaning the disaster, but bring with it an epidemic of sickness and poverty gone unnoticed in our current media.   This window into the lives of people surviving the gulf disaster proves we have forgotten and we have not come far in bringing justice to the lives affected by negligence of a powerful industry.  Caridad Svich’s The Way of the Water is a story of urgent matter, justice, love and the strength of the human spirit against all odds here in the United States.  It is a true American drama of this decade.