Theatre: the memory of water

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The Independent Culture
Everyone gets very hot and bothered about world premieres. It's much harder to generate excitement about second productions of new plays, but Shelagh Stephenson's The Memory of Water is an exception. This, her first play, did very nicely thank you, and there has been a well-received version in New York headed by Suzanne Bertish, but this new British production has proved something of a sensation on its packed-out tour. The secret lies in the canny casting. The meat of the play belongs in the hands of three sisters who return home after years apart. Sounds like a cue for trouble and strife, but when you know that joining the estimable Samantha Bond (who most recently played the title role in Amy's View) are Alison Steadman (above) - emblazoned on the collective memory as Beverley in Abigail's Party - and Julia Absolutely Fabulous Sawalha, you know you're in for plenty of laughs, too.

Vaudeville, London WC2 (0171-836 9987)

David Benedict