One of the best plays I have seen – see Bombshells – twice.
‘Bombshells’ is a risky title, offering reviewers huge avenues for witty or unwitty sarcasm. But there’s nowhere that a reviewer can lift that poison pen. ‘Bombshells’ is dynamite, ripping inside women’s lives, exploding with vivaciousness, realism, hilarity, wit, music, dancing on an underlying seam of ‘quiet desperation’. But there’s ‘the song still in them’. (Henry David Thoreau).
The acclaimed playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, goes to the heart of the lives of women in six vignettes of seemingly very different women at different ages and stages: – a stay-at-home wife and mother with a baby and toddlers; a divorcee with her passion for cacti; a school girl’s ambitions for stardom in the school talent show; a bride on the pathway to disintegration; the widow and hope for love; and the come-back cabaret diva capturing audiences, singing her story of love and life.
The pianist and talented musical director Lindsay Partridge takes his place on the stage as the pianist in the final scene accompanying the diva. However, it is in essence a one-person play. Sharon Millerchip, the multi-talented award winning actor is extraordinary. Her energy, versatility and ability to change persona quickly, takes the audience on the journeys of these diverse women. She is extraordinary, as she captures the audience immediately with fast paced dialogue, bitter-sweet characterisations and emotive themes of entrapment.
The audience is rolling in the aisle as Millerchip races across the stage as a frenzied mother madly juggling breast feeding, school lifts, shopping, kids’ demands, cooking dinner and her guilty indulgence of real coffee and a few minutes for herself. The pathos hits deeply when she says that at dinner she has nothing to say to her husband, because she’s done nothing.
Each vignette holds insights, challenges, laughs, insights, be it the cacti obsessed fanatic or the bride in love with her dress rather than her groom. Sharon Millerchip, dances and sings across the stage. Her comedy is hilarious. Her tragedy moving. Her humanity warm and real. No one goes away untouched and everyone is energised by her outstanding performance.
The Director Sandra Bates and choreographer Nicole Buffoni have beautifully directed Sharon Millerchip with perfect pacing and interchange between vignettes. Marissa Dale-Johnson’s set design successfully melds into the stories changing as the scenes change.
‘Bombshells’ deserves to have huge success. Sharon Millerchip is outstanding, captivating and truly one of Australia’s great actors.
Rating: 5 stars plus. See ‘Bombshells’ at The Ensemble.