Theresa McTerry: Emma Berryman
Mary O’Donnell: Emily Jane Smith
Meryl Louise Davenport: Deborah Hedges
Tiggy Entwhistle: Niki Mylonas
Winsome Webster/Zoe Struthers: Trisha Osborne-King
The ‘In The Bar’ performances are so intimate that at times it can almost be uncomfortable: watching people at such close quarters is tantamount to eavesdropping on private conversations. So it was with the bitter/sweet monologues in the recent production of Bombshells.
Winsome Webster’s husband died some years ago and her days are now filled with various activities including helping as a reader for the blind. Patrick is interested in high-brow books that Winsome doesn’t really understand, however she is captivated by him and his beautiful green eyes. Asking her to read a saucier novel to him she balks at first but Patrick wins her over leaving Winsome feeling more alive than she has for years. Tricia Osborne-King played Winsome with such conviction and skill that many of the audience were dabbing away tears between gales of laughter!
Meryl Louise Davenport, a hard-working full-time wife and mother, is awoken by her baby at 6.10am and we share her day, privy to her daily ritual with the children, not to mention the tortures of being a good wife and mother. This was a full-on, energetic and heartfelt performance by a very accomplished actress, Deborah Hedges, who created a totally believable character.
Bounding on to the stage next came the effervescent, excited schoolgirl Mary O’Donnell, preparing for the school talent show. Mary modestly told us “I’m the talent in this school – without me the talent show would be just… the show”! Mary waited backstage only to hear the announcer’s voice calling her nemesis, Theresa McTerry, forward to perform Mary’s long-rehearsed routine! Desperate, Mary realises she has only “34 seconds to think up something brilliant…” which she does! Emily Jane Smith played Mary with absolute conviction. This was Emily’s debut at BLT and I cannot wait to see her next performance… encore!
The nervous, timid Tiggy Entwhistle lectured about the joys of succulent plants and her life as a “cactophile”. It soon became evident that Tiggy’s husband, Harry, had recently run off with a “young flibbertigibbet” and, comparing herself to the succulents, Tiggy flared with thorny anger at the injustice of her situation and railed against the neglect she had suffered. Finally her anger and passion subsided and we had the sad spectacle of Tiggy slumped over the lectern pleading for Harry’s return. Tiggy was brilliantly played by Niki Mylonas whose performance was utterly captivating.
Every girl, including Theresa McTerry, dreams of her perfect wedding. She rushed into her “boudoir” dressed only in her underwear, eulogising about her happiness with her imminent nuptials. Slowly her happiness and excitement fade as she notices her prospective husband in church, dressed in his finery, looking like a pot plant but she still finds herself repeating the marriage vows before she realises she has done it! I am running out of superlatives with which to describe the performances but here was an actress totally on top of her character and Emma Berryman gave a truly convincing, funny and thoroughly enjoyable performance.
Finally the washed-up, cabaret artiste Zoe Struthers appeared, the second performance from Tricia Osborne-King. Zoe performed songs interspersed with anecdotes from her life including the trials and tribulations which she had endured. I must admit that this was the one part of this otherwise excellent production that I did not enjoy. My disappointment was not with Tricia’s performance which was as accomplished as we would expect from such a fine actress. Unfortunately, this piece stands awkwardly alone, incongruous and disconnected from the other characters.
That said, I think Bombshells was a great success. Jane Lobb directed her cast with real sensitivity and had obviously worked extensively with each actress to draw such fine performances from them all, showcasing the depth of extraordinary talent at BLT.
The show is called Bombshells and boy!… did these girls explode on to the stage with a vitality, power, presence and pathos that only truly talented actresses can muster. Bravo ladies! •
On a cold snowy night, this show warmed the cockles of my heart. It was not my first trip to the bar but my first outing to an ‘In The Bar’ production and the choice of this play was perfect for the intimacy of the venue. Joanna Murray-Smith wrote Bombshells as a one-woman show but it worked well as a showcase for the five actresses who took on the six roles whose paths are subtly interlinked. Jane Lobb’s production reinforced my appreciation of how powerful the soliloquy can be as a theatrical device to capture an audience’s imagination and choosing the bar rather than the main stage for this play was the correct approach. All the actresses under the direction of Jane ensured that the audience, wherever they were, sitting on all three sides of the stage, were actively engaged.
Tricia Osborne-King kicked the evening off with her poignant portrayal of Winsome Webster, a busy member of the widow sorority who transforms from the unglamorous world of being unlucky to finding passion in the unexpected. With Tricia’s beautiful variation in tone and pace, I was totally drawn into Winsome’s world and it is a great credit to her skill that her 35 minutes alone on the stage built to a wonderful comic denouement, from which the other actresses were able to benefit.
Next, Deborah Hedges took us into the chaotic world of Meryl Louise Davenport, a mother of three children. She took us on a wonderful whirlwind journey through her day with beautiful interchanges between the voices of her children, her panic about fulfilling her daily tasks and doubts about her ability to be a good mother. I think everyone in the audience felt as “exhausted” as Meryl Louise was when her baby woke and another similar day looked set to start.
Emily Jane Smith as Mary O’Donnell captured the exuberance and slightly doubtful ability of an enthusiastic and competitive teenage talent show competitor. I loved her homage to Cats and her dancing reminded me of the moves of a crowd of 12-year old girls at the birthday party I had just come from.
The second act of the play opened with a perfectly crafted portrayal of repressed anger as Niki Mylonas introduced us to Tiggy Entwistle. With well-honed comic timing, Niki moved effortlessly from her lecture on cacti to her stream-of-consciousness rage at her deserting husband and some wonderfully comic lines about succulents and Afghans (dogs, not refugees).
The comic pace continued to build with Emma Berryman’s brassy wedding day bride – Theresa McTerry. From the initial wedding day excitement to the realisation of her revulsion for her vertically-challenged, new husband to her spins across the dance floor, Emma lit up the stage.
The evening concluded with the faded and tipsy diva, Zoe Struthers, which saw the return of Tricia with the total opposite of her earlier character. In my view, this was probably the least well-crafted monologue by the playwright and perhaps would work better as the final sixth character played by a single actress. However, Tricia reminded me of a bizarre evening I once spent in a New York theatre watching a worse for wear Liza Minnelli – enjoyable but for all the wrong reasons.
Kudos to cast and crew for a “succulently” humorous night at BLT. •