Created and performed by Kate Bartlett, this one-woman show is an attempt to bring an emotional void to the stage.
The set-up is intriguing — the stage is sparsely decorated with a few pieces of furniture and everyday items (a chair, a desk and a toaster). But there is an uncanny quality to the mise-en-scene which goes beyond the obvious (i.e. that it’s on a stage).
There is a stain in the middle of a rug, a small potted plant on its side and the shards of a large plate or vase scattered in a pile on the floor.
It’s an interesting tableaux, but once the show begins the overall intent becomes harder to grasp.
Madwoman/Gentlewoman is comprised of a series of skits — recording ‘I love you’ into an old tape recorder over and over again; screaming; projected footage of swimming dolphins; a simulated car crash; making toast; replaying the tape recorder and saying ‘I love you too’ back to the recording…
The overall presentation of these incidents creates a sense of disconnection and randomness which seems to be an attempt to create the central character’s (if one call her that) self-loathing and isolation from the world and
Despite these touches, it is hard to detect an underlying theme connecting all of this together, and more importantly, no sense of escalation to these incidents.
It is not just the skits, but the prolonged periods of dead air between each one which make this rather short show a bit of a tough sit. The pace never rises above the funereal.
For those who are willing to take the time, Bartlett’s slow burn work offers something to contemplate. For everyone else, probably better to try something else.
Madwoman/Gentlewoman plays at The Basement as part of Art Week until 15 Oct. Details see The Basement.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Jesse Quaid