Bombshells at Jermyn Street Theatre
Bombshells, written by Aussie Joanna Murray-Smith and last performed ten years ago at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is an unpretentious one-woman play with six characters. That one woman is 22-year-old Ellie Nunn, notably the daughter of actress Imogen Stubbs and director Trevor Nunn, but star of this show in her own right.
The six characters portrayed are all ordinary women with ordinary problems – they forget to pay the gas bill, they get shown up at school, they realise they are in a relationship with the wrong person – but because of the ordinary nature of these problems, they all resonate.
This play is for all those women who have ever felt inadequate, or downtrodden, or as though a cactus plant can adequately demonstrate their human need for tenderness and love. Well, perhaps that last one is a little harder to relate to but even so, the character of Tiggy Entwhistle, cacti enthusiast and speaker at a British Cactus and Succulent Society event, nicely portrays how all living things need a little bit of nurturing – even the humblest of the plant world.
Stage wise, the director’s choice to make all of Nunn’s costume changes visible, behind a Hollywood-style lit up (mirrorless) mirror, is an inspired one. The chaotic, jazzed-up routine of changing wigs and hauling on tights is made genuinely captivating as we try to figure out where one character begins and another ends and where Nunn the actress is in all of this. But, brilliantly, we realise that despite the disparities of the seven women (including Nunn in the headcount), they could all be the same woman – struggling to come to terms with and wittily acknowledging all of life’s mean quirks – as we all have to do from time to time.
And although you probably won’t be convinced that Nunn is truly a widowed senior citizen or an Irish schoolgirl named Mary O’Donnell, what you will believe is that she has found a way to portray the genuine emotion and truth in each one of her characters’ stories. At times there are hints of slightly artificial sentimentality, due to the script’s efforts to tug some heartstrings, but overall Bombshells’ sentiment wafts naturally over its audience via a mix of humour and poignancy as well as an improvised dance to the soundtrack of Shaft.
Bombshells is at the Jermyn Street Theatre until 11th January 2014. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.