Sunday, March 25, 2012

Theatre Review: Bombshells

Bombshells. The Queensland Theatre Company. Cremorne Theatre . Stars Christen O’Leary. Till April 21. B+

Joanna Murray-Smith’s celebration of modern Australian womanhood is brought to the Cremorne Theatre stage with energy and huge enthusiasm by Christen O’Leary.

This one women show takes the form of six monologues featuring a harassed mum, Meryl, cactus-loving divorcée, Tiggy, a musical theatre wannabe, Mary, a two-minded bride, Theresa, a sixty something widower, Winsome, and a failing cabaret diva, Zoe.

Ms O’Leary’s energy is breath-taking as she throws herself into this 90-minute showstopper as if she were an athlete preparing for the London Olympics.

It is definitely tight, tort and terrific, but standing back from this whirl-wind show, directed by Queensland Theatre Company artistic director Wesley Enoch, one has to make some level headed judgments.

One has to pick favourites and I’d like to single two out.

My vote (how topical) goes to the stressed and overworked mum Meryl and Winsome who finds some kind of love, albeit simply physical, at a time when she could be forgiven for thinking her life was all washed up.

Meryl’s tale was like a prose poem flowing down a waterfall with words tumbling out in majestic simplicity. I have heard these ideas expressed  before from women overburdened with motherhood, but never so succinctly or engagingly put.

Then there was Winsome a 60-something widow who puts affairs of the heart and mind behind her to complete her life with dedication to others, but finds an oasis of emotional and physical comfort in the arms of a blind man for whom she reads.

When the fellow gets her to read something a little fruity she exclaims:’Oh I can’t read this I am a widow.’

Yes, you can Winsome and you can sleep with him if you both constant. Love and lust are not against the law.

I know Winsome and she deserves what she receives even if only for a fleeting time. Ms Murray-Smith once again dips her pen into the poetic pot to create a character so rounded.

However, I don’t feel that all her characters work so well as the troubled bride seems somewhat clichéd and  deserted Tiggy makes allusions to sexual references too obviously.

Having said that people whom I deeply respect thought Tiggy among the best and audience reaction favoured others I thought ordinary. There’s six characters in Bombshells and millions waiting to see it. Something for everyone.

 I read this week that Joanna Murray-Smith and playwright Daniel Keene’s work represented more than half of Australia’s theatrical output to the world.

Congratulations  and well-done Wesley.

Finally – and I am dying to get out of this story – I must acknowledge designer Simone Romaniuk whose set was magnificent and allowed Ms O’Leary lots of room.

PS Watch out for Songs for Nobodies by Joanna Murray-Smith starring Bernadetta Robinson in May at the Cremorne Theatre. A corker. Trust me I am a journalist.

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