by David Lally · March 20, 2015
Underwater Guy is Stephen Underwood's multi-media performance piece, which incorporates video, music, lights, scenery, and a single actor/narrator to recount the protagonist's lifelong obsession with diving, underwater exploration and photography. Part documentary, part dramatic monologue with movement, the rapid shifts in the modes of communication are stimulating, engaging and oddly soothing.
Underwood, who wrote the piece, gives the piece a natural flow and it is at once a dynamic performance and a lyrical ballet of words. He weaves transformative episodes from his life into sections he calls “Watermarks”. And there are many: from his mother’s death, his father’s remarriage and his blended family, to his discovery and love of diving and his ultimate struggle with coming out. The use of the HD video that Underwood has filmed with his GoPro camera is especially effective and enhances the words of the actor. The soothing sounds of water and nature combine with a beautiful score to make the piece a very immersive experience. Credit Michael Lynch for excellent technical direction, Alex Chmaj for lighting and Cindy Thompson for the set. All work together seamlessly with Underwood’s presence. Cheryl King has directed well and makes the tiny space at Stage Left Theatre seem bigger and more expansive than it is.
Underwood has created a beautiful one man show out of his passion. His metaphor of water for life’s journey comes through and leaves the audience member with a deeper appreciation of water and how it is the very essence of life.