Just a Must’s production of Woman Bomb is a stylishly presented and poetic evocation of the final minutes of a female suicide bomber’s life. Croatian writer Ivana Sajko’s monologue explores the conflicting thoughts of an author and her terrorist creation and directors Maja Milatovic-Ovadia and Vanda Butkovic fragment the text further by casting not one but three actresses (Laura Harling, Laura Pradelska and Nikki Squire).
This technique, while suiting the dialogue inherent in the play, takes away from the stylisation of the piece and the presentation sits uneasily between the metaphoric and pseudo-naturalistic. There’s an effective moment when Harling is set upon by the other two and stuffed full of explosives but otherwise violence is strangely lacking and everything is just a little too polite (although the image of “fifty kilos of flesh and bones stretched into one hundred and seventy centimetres” is a potent one).
There are faint echoes of Sarah Kane (more 4:48 Psychosis than Blasted funnily enough) but without the visceral punch and theatrical flair, the occasional interjections of documentary evidence – quotes from newspapers and official reports – proving more affecting than Sajko’s original text.
Butkovic’s set design is visually arresting, with a brick floor which shatters as the actors walk on it, soon leaving a scene of devastation, and striking, if under-used, video projections by Mafalda Cruz and Dan Oki.
Suicide bombing is a vital issue, especially in the West where we’re appalled if it happens to us but indifferent when it’s far away. This hypocrisy really should be addressed by the theatre but Woman Bomb is a missed opportunity to enquire and provoke.
- Simon Thomas