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porpoise pool : downstairs @ belvoir street


Bite Productions production of Jojo Zhou’sPORPOISE POOL  is the new show downstairs at Belvoir, playing as part of Belvoir’s 25A season of plays.

Each year Belvoir selects a series of plays, after a submission process, to comprise its 25A season. The benefits of independent theatre companies getting  their play up is that Belvoir provides the downstairs theatre free of charge and the company gets 100% of the box office.

Zhou is an alumni of NIDA’s acclaimed playwriting  studio.  The studio encourages complex, multi-layered works, and this was the case with her play.

I found Zhou’s choice of play title a little oblique. What does it mean? Is it some variation/allusion to the daggy town called Porpoise Spit which Muriel flees from in the classic ‘Muriel’s Wedding’?!

The play follows the journey of a nervy, troubled, struggling young woman, Lou.

There are  two main paths/strands in her journey, and they both have a very contemporary feel to them.

There is her majorly difficult struggle with being a teen mother to her son Mason who lives with her ex partner, Jonah. With a whole range of issues, which will become clear to you if you see the play, Lou doesn’t have any conviction that she is a good mother, and Jonah has even less confidence.

Lou also wrestles with the deeper question, what is the better approach when being a mother? Is it better to be very protective of one’s offspring  or rather is it wiser to steer the child to be as independent as possible at an early age?! Zhou cleverly defers to the very different approaches that exist in the wider animal kingdom to motherhood.

The other path is Lou’s dependence on  Artificial Intelligence (AI). She has an  AI box, similar to an Elixir, and she counts on its advice for every life situation she encounters. The box is aptly called Home.  We wonder if there is anything left of Lou after Home has had her say?!

Eve Beck’s savvy production brings all of the qualities in Zhou’s play to the fore. The production starts off in a naturalistic style but is  soon  very freewheeling in nature, mixing fantasy with reality, allusion with metaphor. Whilst the playwright digs deep thematically, there is plenty of colour and humour in Beck’s production.

The performances are all good. Special mentions for Meg Clarke who is outstanding in a very big central and Jane Mahady is suitably phlegmatic as the calming, dispassionate Home. The other actors deftly and often hilariously played multiple roles.

Lily Mateljan’s bold, idiosyncratic costume choices are my highlight in  the work of Beck’s creative team.

This is a production that leaves it all out there. Jojo Zhou’s PORPOISE POOL is playing downstairs at Belvoir Street until the 18th June 2023.



Lou : Meg Clarke

House : Jane Mahady

Jonah/Mason : Luke Leong -Tay

Helen/Mrs. King/Octopus : Loretta Kung

Pete/Doctor/Seal : Carlos Sanson Jr


Director : Eve Beck

Set Designer : Soham Apte

Costume Designer : Lily Mateljan

Sound Designer : Clare Hennessy

Lighting Designer : Tyler Fitzpatrick

Stage Manager  : Pip Haupt

A Bite Productions under Belvoir’s 25a umbrella, Jojo Zhou’s PORPOISE POOL is playing downstairs at Belvoir Street until the 18th June 2023,

Production photography by Phil Erbacher



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