There’s nothing like a funeral to bring out the best and worst in a family, oftentimes to both tragic and hilarious effect.
“The Memory of Water,” the latest production at the Miners Alley Playhouse, shows how three sisters come together after the death of the their mother and examines how memory changes over time.
The play will be staged through May 26 at the theater, 1224 Washington Ave. in Golden. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 6 p.m.
“I came across the script a couple years ago, but it wasn’t right for what I was doing at the time, so it’s been on the back burner for a while,” said Paige Larson, Miners Alley artistic director and an actor in the show. “For our last season (as artistic director) I came back to it and thought it was just a great story — funny, poignant and lovely.”
The story takes place in England in the 1990s, as eldest daughter Teresa (Lisa DeCaro), middle child Mary (Larson) and youngest daughter Catherine (Emily Paton Davies) gather together for the first time in a long time because of their mother Vi’s (Deborah Curtis) funeral.
The sisters don’t really get along, Larson said, and they all have different and conflicting memories of their childhoods, which causes a lot of friction and misunderstanding as they try to sort out their past lives and how it shaped their futures.
As if dealing with old family issues wasn’t enough, Frank (Matthew Blood-Smyth), Teresa’s husband and Mike (Kurt Brighton), a married doctor with whom Mary has been having a five year affair, also show up for the funeral.
“The subject sounds really heavy and it has it’s moments, but there is just a lot of great British humor in it,” Larson said. “The sisters constantly pick at each other, and it’s in this great snarky way.”
The play is directed by John Arp, in his second time directing at the theater. Arp is primarily known for his work as an actor, which gives him a unique appreciation for the talent performing in “Memory.”
“We have an incredible group of people and they all have tremendous credits,” he said. “They all bring heartfelt and really funny performances to the show.”
Arp also said that one of the benefits of spending the majority of his career as an actor is as a director he is able to know what actors need to draw out good performances.
“I know that actors need consistency, but also need to be able to find their own creativity,” he said. “They need to have a sense of what feels good for the character.”
Larson said that she uses her own family history and dynamics in creating her character, but it also helps that the play is so well written and structured.
“Everyone really runs the full gamut,” she said. “Each sister has a real emotional moment, but then the humor comes back in. It’s kind of a laugh so you don’t cry thing.”
For Arp, what stands out about “Memory of Water” is the balance it strikes between comedy and poignancy.
“People are going to laugh, but there are some truly lovely moments in there as well,” he said.
For tickets and more information, call 303-935-3044 or visit www.minersalley.com.