In marry, fuck, breath of water, a Philly Theatre Week world premiere from Enlog Theatre Company, Sasha learns that her close friend Clara has romantic feelings for her. “I think fear is stupid,” Sasha answers. That five-word utterance could easily get lost among many powerful statements in writer Megan McKiernan’s look at love, but despite its brevity, it’s the dominant takeaway from the compelling script.
Intimacy and suspense
Under the direction of Emily Abrams, Sav Souza (Sasha) and Madeline Claire Webb (Clara) are exquisite. Souza in particular wields such an endearing stage presence that you almost wish Clara had expressed her attraction earlier in the play, so the audience could see more of their burgeoning connection. As it goes, this Philly Theatre Week offering encourages viewers to forecast the fortune the two will share, with McKiernan expertly building the suspense by balancing Sasha’s steadfast comprehension of intimacy and sexuality with Clara’s somewhat stunted understanding of each.
This questioning character explores her confusion through monologues about her affinity for aquatic settings and the lure of such locations for distancing herself from difficult personal decisions and internal truths. In noting the sadness behind “losing young women to the sea,” she notes, “God knows they have to go,” with the deity’s existence becoming an important topic for her and Sasha as their attraction is revealed.
Staged within South Philly’s Headlong Studios, the 50-minute debut makes a wonderful opportunity for patrons to observe the trust between the leads. The compact space amplifies their vulnerability and the possibilities that await beyond fear. Since Sasha deems doubt a waste of time, she appears poised to assist Clara through her newfound (or newly admitted) grasp on her sexuality.
Ahead of her realization that exploring a romantic tie with a woman possesses the sort of merit that could validate so much of her very being, Clara speaks perhaps the saddest line in the show: “If you can find a good enough reason that nobody loves you, then you can be free.” Her contention increases the gravitas of the plot. The eventual disclosure of her feelings catalyzes Sasha’s repudiation of any regret that fear might inspire.
Billed as “a story about the love between two girls,” marry, fuck, breath of water could have succeeded just as easily by dropping the from the description: Sasha and Clara make clear that we need not put identifiers on our attractions to have them resonate within our souls. Their compelling courtship likewise will resound with audiences, since it is rooted in the reckless abandon that all true love can credit as its guide.
In keeping with the title of the show, which is a take on the game "Marry, Fuck, Kill," which Sasha and Clara play in an early scene, you could say this Enlog Theatre Company creation decides to kill apprehension, say “fuck you” to perceptions of how cautiously we should express our emotions, and marry the myriad hopes that self-awareness can yield.
What, When, Where
marry, fuck, breath of water. Written by Megan McKiernan. Emily Abrams directed. Enlog Theatre Company. Through February 15, 2019, at Headlong Studios, 1170 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. enlogtheatreco.webnode.com.