A woman, a bath.
Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home, playing at the Judith Wright Centre, is a voyeuristic look into the 1940s screen legend’s private life as she winds down from a social event.
Devised and performed by Belinda Locke, the intimate solo performance was inspired by photographer Peter Stackpole’s 1946 photograph of the same name, and explores the themes of celebrity, identity, femininity, and beauty.
As a PhD candidate, Belinda is interested in examining the use of magical realism in visual theatre, and the many identities one assumes in different social situations with different people. Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home peers into the ‘real’ life of the human behind the celebrity and how she might behave when the cameras aren’t rolling.
From the looks of the promo material, the show gave the perception of a cabaret imparting interesting tid-bits about the life of the performer as well as her inner most thoughts and desires; however, what ensued was an interesting fifty-minute piece of physical theatre with no direct address to the audience or even a soliloquy which gave room for the audience to engage with the piece in their own way to fill in the blanks. Perhaps the provocative silence here is more important than what is actually going on.
The show began with Belinda entering the space as Maureen in her vintage style black dress and slowly began undressing as she poured herself a drink and turned on the gramophone to listen and dance to some great 1940’s jazz and big band sounds that acted as the atmospheric soundscape for the rest of the show.
Belinda then promptly stripped down to her birthday suit and slipped into the clawed bath, to bathe and relax, occasionally flicking water, getting out, drying herself off, putting on a robe or bathing suit, only to get undressed again and back into the water. While this was happening, the show was scattered with projected footage segments from Maureen O’Hara’s various films which enhanced the piece and juxtaposed the private alone time we were now witnessing.
The ‘real time’ experimental nature of the show made the pacing a little slow in places, but perhaps the voyeuristic slice-of-life was more the point rather than cutting out any of the ‘boring bits’ of life.
Overall, an interesting experimentation with the theatrical form providing a unique audience experience. Perhaps a little more time in development would help extend the work beyond a piece of theatrical art or artistic study to engage a mainstream audience with a little more storyline.
Maureen O’Hara Spends a Quiet Night At Home, is playing at the Judith Wright Centre for a limited season until 28th June. If you are into voyeurism, the 1940’s era, or experimental theatre then this is the show for you. If you are after fast paced, action packed story-telling or humour then maybe a dvd would be better suited.
Warning: The show contains nudity.