Review: Water by the Spoonful

Water by the Spoonful

“Excuse me, why did you bring a soda on stage?”

“Excuse me, why did you bring a soda on stage?”

Photo courtesy of Big Idea Theatre

Water by the Spoonful; 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday; $12-$22. Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036; Through September 9.
Rated 4.0

There are a lot of lost souls swimming about, looking for safe harbors in Water by the Spoonful, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Quiara Alegría Hudes, now being staged by Big Idea Theatre. Two groups of seemingly unrelated characters are isolated, wounded individuals desperately and diligently looking for some sort of human connection—in family, in person or online.

Water by the Spoonful is the second in a trilogy by Hudes—the first is Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue and the series concludes with The Happiest Song Plays Last—all three centered around the struggles of Elliot Ortiz, a young Marine returning home from Iraq.

In Water by the Spoonful, audience members are introduced to Elliot (Russell Dow) after he returns stateside shadowed by war ghosts, and doesn’t quite know where he now fits in with his Puerto Rican family, in society or in his future. The story then flashes to a strange, disjointed group who turns out to be an online Alcoholics Anonymous group.

In the beginning, the two storylines and groups of characters feel disjointed and disconnected—as designed by the playwright. There’s a plot-twist reason for the seemingly separate groups, but it can be a bit frustrating for the audience. However, once the story and actors gel, the audience gets pulled in and is rewarded with a satisfying payoff throughout the second half.

Director Chloe King is faced with the challenges of bringing both story and cast together, but she’s pulled together a group of talented actors and a strong production team who successfully meld the storylines into a cohesive, emotionally heart-tugging finale.