Wendigo Water by Arthur Chappell. Dir. Gina T. Frost and John Topliff. Perf. Steve Cain, Phil Chadwick, Arthur Chappell.
3MT Radio, March 2015. Download from https://soundcloud.com/john-topliff/wendigo-water-by-arthur-chappell
Set in America's Midwest, this is a macabre tale involving a Native Indian, who is taken for granted by the white majority
- to such an extent that he is nothing more than an object of curiosity. No one takes him seriously; like the Elephant Man
in the play and film, he is put on display to give occasional performances for rich bourgeois guests on a ship.
Everything appears to be going swimmingly, so to speak, until the ship sinks. The Indian is cast adrift on a boat with
other survivors. They end up fighting with one another; there are some unexpected deaths, and the Indian is accused of murder
and even more serious crimes.
Recorded in front of a live audience, "Wendigo Water" takes as its basic premise the idea that water is not
only the stuff of life, but it can also be associated with death. The Indian understands the sacred nature of water, but
none of his fellow-survivors actually do, with tragic consequences.
The action moves swiftly towards an horrific conclusion, performed enthusiastically by a seven-strong cast. They help
to maintain the attention throughout, so long as listeners overlook the rather faux-Américain accents, redolent of Manchester,
Lancashire rather than Manchester, New Hampshire.