Bluebeard; or, the Marriage Mistakes of a Nameless Bride @ Bondi Pav

BLUEBEARD; OR, THE MARRIAGE MISTAKES OF A NAMELESS BRIDE is playing as part of the Bondi Feast. The Feast, which is held at the Bondi Pavilion, has numerous venues and I have been to pretty much all of them these past 2 weeks. Until tonight. Curiosity drew me.

This production takes place in the male change room of the venerable 1920s building. The audience sit on the benches with the drama happening in front of them and around them and hidden in the next cubicle. Part radio play, part immersion, part spectator experience: the show begins with a ritual.

The solitude of a shower. Then the donning of clothes and of the self which is shown to the world. The actors look at us as if in a mirror and check that the prsona is all tidy, correct and at its best before taking it away from the intimacy of dressing.

Melissa Hume and Curly Fernandez are the actors and the characters remain nameless but we are seeing Bluebeard and the Bride. Our guide is Gideon Payten-Griffiths, a troubadour of sorts who provides music to guide emotions, to preface events and to warn of danger.

This is a woman who is obviously putting herself in harm’s way. Sexually aggressive, does she recognise her poor choices? It is part of the mystery of this show. Like the fairy story, he is ugly … not on the surface but beneath. The constant threat of an explosion from his deliberacy simmers under the skin.

Love is a mystery too and this play explores the impulses which draw and divide. Michael Dean’s direction is the key to opening the door which blurs attraction and menace. There are moments when they might be made for each other! Beautifully written, uncorrupted by any twisting to suit the venue, it creeps into the darkness of relations despite the glare of the flouro lights and the institutional walls. The site contributes to our fear for the bride. It is a vast cavern, this space, and it echoes and towers and she is small and unsafe. Every adult knows to be wary, knows what can happen in changerooms, knows that she should hesitate to play his games.

Everything in this production blends seamlessly including the elegant and subtle performances which echo on after viewing. Curiosity might be sated and dead but the richness of the images, ideas and stripped bare emotion linger.