Saturday, 30 September 2017

Virgin Bloody Mary - Theatre Review

What: Virgin Bloody Mary
When: 22 - 26 September 2017
Where: Errol's Cafe
Created and performed by: Nadia Collins

Nadia Collins
It's not often I get hit by a spit ball as I enter a theatre. In fact, it has never happened - until now. Nadia Collins sets the tone for this humanist look at what it is to live up to/be the Virgin Mary from the moment we enter the theatre in this fun-filled yet terrifying romp through the life and times of the religious archetype of the perfect woman in Virgin Bloody Mary.

Collins' Mary begins her incarnation as a mischievous but obedient young girl, angelic yet playful. Invoking the innocence of an angel with her rosary beads and halo Mary puts down her straw and spit balls to welcome everyone into the theatre with the communion of bread and wine which quickly gets out of hand as she extends the offering to cheese, crackers, celery, cucumbers, etc.

Frantically eager to please, Collins develops a frenetic energy as her eagerness to do the right thing gets majorly out of control. This is our first hint of where the evening is going to head. With a phone instruction from God to be fruitful and multiply, Mary finds herself confused between devil sperm and holy sperm. What could possibly go wrong?

Collins is a mime artist and Virgin Bloody Mary is a complex and interactive show which demonstrates her mime and clowning skills to their full extent. Collins shows just how impossible it is to live with the consequences of an immaculate conception and to live up the an angelic benchmark using only her body - which is being used and abused by a violent patriarchy. With a stage (and body) covered with blood and strewn with a broken baby doll and a detroyed rosary which has turned into an instrument of death and destruction, a confused and bereft Mary turns to her God at the end and says 'oops'.

This all sounds very serious, but Collin's feminist take on the maternal archetype is hilarious. Framed by an earnest attempt to be good and do God's bidding it is impossible to not laugh at her desperate attempts - until the shivers kick in when you realise she was doomed to fail from the very beginning. In the business world there is this idea of 'setting people up to succeed'. Collins clearly demonstrate the female archetypes set women up to fail.

Collins has great skill but is still in development. It is hard enough getting and audience to understand how to interact when a performer speaks. For Collins the task is ten times harder in mime. She does it well and most times the intention is understood eventually, but it is this side of her craft which still needs to be explored.

Having said that, I don't know when I had such a fulfilling night of theatre. It had huge laughs. It had food and wine (yes we all get to indulge), and it had great ideas and important commentary. If you get the chance to see Virgin Bloody Mary don't miss it. Just be prepared for the unexpected. After all, I never dreamed I would be the father of demon spawn and yet...

3.5 Stars

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