Good Theater immersed the audience in co-founder Steve Underwood’s fluid life Friday with the world premiere of “UnderwaterGuy.”

Artistic modules cascaded across the sides of the stage like frothy white waves, engulfing an epic-size flat screen television. Painted water seemed to ripple on the stage beneath.

Given the screenlike appearance of the modules, it was surprising that they didn’t spring to life with schools of fish at some point in the evening. But the imagery on the television was undeniably stunning.

The black abyss of the large screen was transformed into a mesmerizing water world, teeming with life and majestic beauty. The audience could almost smell the freshness of Maine’s lakes and streams and taste the warm, salty air of the tropical locales.

Underwood was the underwater guide for the 90-minute aquatic journey, regaling the audience with stories of his life and his love of all things water. Video and photographs shot by Underwood accompanied his entertaining musings, along with pictures from his past.

Laughter bubbled from the audience as Underwood re-enacted hearing water speak to him in Thailand after eating an omelet with “magic mushrooms.”

“Man gets wet … repeatedly” is the tongue-in-cheek synopsis in the program. Under the surface, though, Underwood has crafted a much deeper message about the ebb and flow of life and death in the interconnected cycle of life.

As Underwood points out, we all start out life swimming happily in the waters of the womb until we are cast out into the desert of the world. It’s easy to become tumbleweed, blown disconnected through life. But Underwood has found synergy in the waters of the world, including 80 spots in Maine.

Not only are his images breathtaking; they are also soothing to the soul. The audience experiences what it is like to be a vibrant red maple leaf drifting carefree through the lily pads in Hurd Pond, or a fish gliding over forgotten railway tracks at the bottom of Sebago Lake.

That’s not to say Underwood’s life has been all smooth sailing. He experienced loss at a young age and struggled at various points in his life to define and accept his sexuality. The audience felt his pain and confusion as he pensively paused in his narration, emotion dripping from his voice.

Water has taught Underwood some valuable lessons that we can all benefit from remembering:

When the pressure becomes overwhelming, stay calm.

Face threats without flinching.

Take time to absorb the mysteries and treasures hidden under the surface of life.

Good Theater patrons have come to know the outrageous characters Underwood has brought to the stage over the past 12 seasons since he and his partner, Brian P. Allen, first founded Good Theater. “UnderwaterGuy” provides a revealing exploration of the man behind the myth.

Allen treated audiences to a behind-the-scenes look at his life with his one-man show in 2010. It’s a pleasure to see Underwood follow suit, diving into the depths of his life with an audio-visual production that reveals yet another talent in the performer’s extensive wheelhouse.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. She can be contacted at:

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