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BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older Women

MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH

BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older Women

Saturday 16th January 2021, 2pm, Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre

MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH is a wonderful reminder that Western society should be doing more to acknowledge and listen to its older women. This elegantly simple and perfectly crafted 70 minute solo performance by writer and performer Jonny Hawkins is a masterclass in storytelling and immersion in a character.

BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older WomenJonny Hawkins and Co-conceiver and Director Nell Ranney have created a character inspired by Hawkins' real-life friend, but the Maureen of the show is styled less as a biographical work but more of a homage to both the original Maureen and the other older women Hawkins knows or has known. Just as Maureen believes a person's home is an extension of themselves, after a brief introduction, Hawkins, in simple black turtleneck top and ochre pants, 'disappears' into Isabel Hudson's beautiful expression of Maureen's sumptuous but simple velvet swathed apartment and Maureen 'emerges' to hold court from her armchair.

BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older WomenWith only the addition of minimal jewellery and a swipe of lipstick, Hawkins' transformation into Maureen is more through the physical and vocal expression which is done with authenticity and the recognition of being so well acquainted with the role, both as a friend to the women that inspired the work and as a character that Hawkins and Ranney have developed over 5 years. The recognizable physical expressions of age are presented with a subtle tremor of rheumatic hands and the cadence of speech is distinguishable as a woman that grew up in a different era. For anyone who knows or has known bold women that refuse to age quietly, Maureen's daring and cheeky confidence is easily familiar and when paired with Hawkins brilliant smile and marvelous facial expressions that are so engaging, many will wish that Maureen could stay a little longer and share more stories. BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older WomenMaureen, an octogenarian "working class glamour queen", shares her story along with reveling her 'gift' of knowing when a person will die, hence her title as "The Harbinger of Death". She shares the musings from her day to day along with stories of the dearly departed listed in her little black book. Sharing most of her days with an adopted cat and conversing with a portrait of Greek goddess Persephone, wife of Hades, she is grateful for company. She is a perfect reminder that the elders of our community, particularly the women, hold the stories of the past and they should be allowed to tell their stories, not shunted into corners and spoken about as if they arent capable of speaking for themselves. Older men are often still given the space to be heard but all too often women are not. As with Maureen's dislike of the classical expression of Persephone's story, society needs to let women tell their own stories, stories which will probably let them regain their power when told from a point of personal experience rather than through the patriarchal lens that has colored much of history. Society also needs to hear about the world as seen through a woman's view to give balance to the picture painted about the world. There is also a celebration of the idea that even though much of society may have written off older women like Maureen, they still have dreams, imaginations, and ideas, the same as the young, but theirs benefit from the wisdom of experience gained during the years that the young can only hope for.

BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older WomenMAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH is a brilliant piece of theatre that pairs a fabulous performer with a creative and descriptive text to draw the audience into another world and leaves them with the reminder that they should reach out to the older women in their own lives. Filled with insightful philosophies of life, descriptions that play out in the mind with remarkable clarity, and delicious re-take on ancient mythology, this is a must see show of the 2021 Sydney Festival season.

BWW REVIEW: MAUREEN: THE HARBINGER OF DEATH Is A Captivating Celebration Of Society's Often Unseen Older WomenIt is understood that additional shows may have been added due to demand so try to secure a ticket. Hopefully this work will also be restaged so more audiences can enjoy and evening with Maureen.

https://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/events/maureen-harbinger-death

Photos: Yaya Stempler


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