Three sisters meet on the eve of their mother’s funeral. Together they rummage through their collective memories, dredging up old stories, events and conflicts. Each has evolved their own way of dealing (or not) with the past but as emotion, disputed memory and alcohol each takes its toll, they slowly dissolve into a chaos of hilarity and grief.

 The Memory of Water was Shelagh Stephenson’s first play, which opened at Hampstead Theatre, London in 1996. In 2000 The Memory of Water was winner of the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Comedy. A huge hit on the West End, Stellar Quines’ co-production was the Scottish premiere.

During the Scotland-wide tour of The Memory of Water Stellar Quines invited audiences to share memories with their fellow audience members.  In certain venues, Outreach Workshops were run with groups of women, exploring memory, how we recall and how the play addresses the notion of memory, particularly amongst the three sisters, Mary, Catherine and Teresa.  Audience memories were recorded on luggage labels and posted into a giant steamer trunk that accompanied the tour.


‘Bitter, sharp humour and rich female energy – raunchy, gossipy, sexual and genuinely passionate about men… Beautifully paced, meticulously detailed but passionately performed’ (The Scotsman )
'Combines a flair for witty dialogue and a relish for the dynamics of theatre ... Stephenson, a mistress of comic anguish, is clearly a real find' (The Guardian )
‘An acute and funny writer, Stephenson carves out a welcome territory that is distinctive, contemporary and theatrical’ (The Independent )

Production Tour Dates

  • 15 April – 1 May, Byre Theatre, St. Andrews
  • 13 – 29 May, Tron Theatre, Glasgow
  • 1 June, Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
  • 2 June, Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
  • 4 June, Eastgate Theatre, Peebles
  • 5 June, Cumbernauld Theatre, Cumbernauld
  • 8 June, Lyth Arts Centre, Wick
  • 10 – 12 June, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
  • 15 June, Plockton Village Hall
  • 16 June, Aultbea Community Hall
  • 17 June, Ardross Community Hall
  • 18 June, Birnam Institute Dunkeld
  • 19 June, Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline
  • 22 – 23 June, North Edinburgh Arts Centre
  • 24 – 26 June, Dundee Rep Theatre
  • 6 – 12 August, Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland

The Memory of Water (2004)

The Memory of Water was a co-production between Stellar Quines the Byre Theatre, St Andrews and The Tron Theatre, Glasgow and was a Scottish premiere.

Creative Team

  • Writer : Shelagh Stephenson
  • Director : Muriel Romanes
  • Designer: Isla Shaw
  • Lighting Designer : Natasha Chivers
  • Composer, Sound Designer : Hilary Brooks


  • Jennifer Black
  • Simon Coury
  • Molly Innes
  • Mary Keegan
  • Crawford Logan
  • Alexandra Mathie
  • Georgia Watson


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