Water is a highly enjoyable independent comedy set during the First World War and taking us on an adventure all through Europe and America, telling the true story of Carl Hans Lody (Stephen Lloyd-Coombs), a surprisingly loveable German spy. The show shares his journey from childhood until his historic execution as a war criminal. What makes the tale interesting is Lody’s complete incompetence as a spy, working together with his uncontrollable courteousness and likeability. It makes for an amusing, snappy and warm piece of work.

On first impressions, set and costume design deserve a mention for being accurate enough to tell place and time while still being eye-catching and functional. The presentation of the show is pleasing without doing too much, in the intimate performance space.

The performances and writing make watching the show a pleasure. The cast members are energetic and switch between a multitude of dynamic characters seamlessly. They build together a magnetic stage presence and are goofy in all the right ways, with silliness in mounds and presenting it with poise. The pacing is speedy and never dull. Lib Campbell’s performance is particularly memorable for her hilarity and unique performance style. The work itself is farcical in nature and the characters played feel like bubbly caricatures of the innkeepers, navy men, intelligence officers and unsuspecting citizens that they represent. This all created a particularly animated and cheery approach to a tale of wartime.

What also makes the show’s portrayal of wartime enjoyable is the theme of friendship that floats around throughout. Lody is well liked by those he is meant to be betraying, but at his criminal trial people testify to his good nature, despite his lies and spying, which were useless anyway. Citizens of these neighboring nations are finding it hard to see each other as enemies. The Scottish innkeeper and the German spy get along with a charming banter, while looming overhead is the idea that they’re supposed to be adversaries, and the change from sibling nations to enemies has felt too sudden to comprehend. There are some moments throughout where Lody shows us sincerity and earnest emotion that are packaged in delicious language as well. What’s felt is heartwarming, a change of perspective on historical narratives and laughter.

On November 5th-16th at New Blood Theatre


Stephen Lloyd-Coombs

Mark Langham

Lib Campbell

Tristan Black

Directed by:

Mark Langham


Hot Trends

This Month in Sydney

26 Feb - 1 March
More info Less info

ArtsLab is Shopfront’s annual emerging artist program which provides 6-month residency space, an industry mentor and season to showcase new works. In 2019 we supported 6 emerging artists to create 5 new works. The season includes 3 theatre works, an installation and a video artwork.