Two actresses, two monologues, two stories, two outcomes, one struggle.
Last night Maggi Green and Mikyla Jane Durkan of Burjesta Theatre, Liverpool performed two very different monologues on the theme of the struggle of women in society. Grotesque comedies from Italian dramatists Dario Fo and Franca Rame Rise and Shine and A Woman Alone invite you into the personal lives of two women: both obedient to their husbands, both comforting babies and both so tired and sick of everything.
Rise and Shine was skillfully performed by Maggie Green. A stressed out mother wakes up from one nightmare straight into another one. Relieved to find her fingers still on her hands, those hands become full as soon as her feet touch the floor. The baby in one hand, her handbag in another and the key, where is the key? Squeezing her way around imaginary furniture, with very few props and an invisible baby, keeping up the mime of struggling to search the small cramped house for keys while narrating her life, her husband’s life and talking to baby was done beautifully. We never see the husband but the change in stance and expression when his dialogue was recited brought to life the domestic struggles this woman is going through. The clock is ticking, the panic is growing, no-one is coming to help, baby’s filled his nappy, again, and the key is nowhere to be found. The panic in this claustrophobic house with nothing in the right place was tangible.
The atmosphere grew thicker again during Mikyla Jane Durkan’s accomplished portrayal of A Woman Alone. The stage now filled with props (this lady’s husband buys her everything) a wife has been locked up in her flat after indulging in an affair with her young Italian teacher. She is caring for her brother-in-law, who is in a (almost) full body cast in another room with just one hand and that free for groping around and her baby who is crying of often. Music plays in every room to stop her feeling alone, the phone constantly rings – nuisance calls, checks up from her husband and begging from her young lover – and then the banging on the door starts. There’s so much noise! What can you do when all you want is a quiet conversation with the new neighbour? You need to stay calm. Very very calm. Bright welcoming smiles and laughter gave way to wide eyed desperation dissolving into an eerie sense of calm as a woman alone welcomed everyone back into the house and tried to regain control.
Where are the keys? The men have them.
Burjesta Theatre are a fringe theatre company based at The Casa, Hope Street, Liverpool. Further information can be found on their Facebook page.
Copyright, D M Day, 2017