Looking to portay the idea of someone who is trapped both mentally and physically in a cell, Ghislaine/Gabler follows our protagonist as she tries to justify her involvement in a crime by looking back at her own relationship with her father, as well as with men in general. The performance explored the idea of what really makes a person a monster, especially when it is revealed she keeps having dreams of being Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, whom her father kept praising throughout her childhood.
At times uncomfortable to watch, but you couldn't help but want to continue
This show was created by the show's performer, Kristen Winters. She became fascinated by both the real life Ghislaine Maxwell, the British socialite known for her association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as well as the fictional character of Hedda Gabler. Winters has managed to find aspects in common between these seemingly unrelated women, such as them both wanting to be accepted in society by any means, the powerful (and mostly corrupt) men they were associated with, and them both feeling that they are a pawn in these men's schemes and taking the fall for them, "sorting out his mess" as Ghislaine aptly put it.
What evolved was a theatre show that was thought provoking, as it explored mental health issues, and the concept of what it is like to be trapped mentally and physically. Some of the subjects raised may have been triggering for some, as there was discussion of suicide attempts, as well as physical and mental abuse at the hands of her father. The way Winters explored these subjects was raw and sensitively handled. The use of physical abstract theatre alongside a pair of tights helped to show the unstableness of Ghislaine as she reflected on her actions. It became a piece that was at times uncomfortable to watch, but you couldn't help but want to continue to be a voyeur as she faced her inner demons. This was aided by the voice of Hedda Gabler in her head, which added another layer of mental comfort to her, as well as potentially suggesting that her character is schizophrenic. By doing it in this way, the character was able to slowly justify that she was not responsible for her actions, even though some of the flashbacks indicated she could have been.
Ghislaine/Gabler benefited from having a strong performer in Winters, as she allowed herself to explore her inner monster. She was more than able to hold the viewer's attention as each layer of her character's onion was peeled away. Her ability to create someone who was, in many ways, trapped was a triumph, as she made sure the manic nature of Ghislaine's mind was channelled both physically and vocally. One minute she was cool and calm, the next like a hamster on a wheel in a cage with nowhere to go.
The very minimalistic set consisted of only a black stage with a black box and a white taped border, which indicated a smaller space to work within. The only addition to this was a basic floor mic, which added to the simplistic intensity of all that then evolved within the space.
This show is not for those of a sensitive nature, or those easily triggered by difficult and emotional topics. However, those who love psychological profile explorations will no doubt become engaged with the material presented.