It’s hard to think of Bombshells and not think of Caroline O’Connor, the diva who inspired playwright Joanna Murray Smith to write this solo show, with six female characters including a teenager, a bride-about-to-be, a stay-at-home mother, and a 64-year-old widow. The playwright wanted to offer O’Connor something both challenging to and demonstrative of her enormous talent. And O’Connor left a formidable legacy. HIT productions and performer Christen O’Leary offer an amusing, professional and at times very moving performance; however, anyone who has seen the original, or even snippets of it, can’t help but be a little underwhelmed.
That being said, for newcomers to the work, it’s a wonderful show. O’Leary is extremely talented, and takes on each character with energy and commitment, working the humour in the script and letting the audience response direct the nuances of her finely-tuned comic timing.
The show starts fantastically with a great version of Meryl Louise Davenport, the ‘Mum’ character. O’Leary is very convincing as the frenzied mother who is trying to cope with the responsibilities and pressures of motherhood. This is easily the most famous monologue from the show an it’s an excellent interpretation.
O’Leary’s portrayal of Winsome Webster, the widow, is absolutely the highlight of the show. You forget what has come before and become absorbed in her story. She also does a hilarious version of the nervous bride, Theresa McTerry, and gives a strong performance of all her other characters.
Recasting a show written for a specific performer is a big call. O’Leary does an excellent job, and if she didn’t look so uncannily like her predecessor, it would be easier to judge this performance on its own many merits. Instead, I was constantly reminded of the original and disappointed that this production simply recreated it, rather than seeking to offer a different interpretation. However, all in all, it’s an enjoyable production of a great play – and that’s always worth seeing.