Sacramento State’s production of “Water by the Spoonful,” directed by Roberto Pomo, is an emotional play that deals with drug addiction, online identities and is filled with complex characters that makes the audience feel as if they were voyeurs.
“Water by the Spoonful” was written by Quiara Alegría Hudes, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2012. It is the second part of a trilogy that takes place in-between “Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue” and “The Happiest Song Plays Last,” though seeing the first is not necessary for viewing “Water.”
The play focuses on two worlds: an online message board for recovering drug addicts, and the real world. It is fitting that a play that tackles post-modern themes, such as the lives people have online, was produced in a black box theater.
A projector threw an image on a screen to illustrate where each scene took place, such as a flower store.
The character that is featured in all three parts is Elliot Ortiz, played by Antonio Perez, an Iraq vet who is still haunted by his memories of serving, and struggles throughout the play to connect to his crack-addict mother.
His mother, Odessa Ortiz, who goes by the screen name “Haikumon,” is played by Yesenia Lopez. In the play, Odessa created a message board for people who are recovering drug addicts.
What makes Odessa an interesting character is that her online persona is different from that of her real life identity. She chastises those who swear on her message board, but does not shy away from swearing herself when she is talking to people in real life.
The characters that populate the message board connect to each other in ways that they are not able to in the real world.
It is in this regard that it could be argued that the play could be read as an antithesis to the work of J.G. Ballard, who wrote novels that detailed how people have become isolated by the advancement of technology.
“Water by the Spoonful” is an intelligent, engaging play that tackles modern themes, and should be seen by everyone who travels back and forth between the digital and the real world.
The play is entering into its last weekend, with remaining performances on Nov. 21, Nov. 22 and Nov. 23. For prices and ticketing information, go to http://www.csus.edu/aba/hornettickets.