There are some excellent one-woman shows out there, but this one doesn’t have much to offer. The script is weak and dull and Ciara McGuinness’ performance as Serbian artist Marijan Kockovic’s wife, Slobodanka Djokic-Kockovic, is disappointingly unsympathetic. Marijan could be an interesting exploration of the inner life of an artist’s muse, but Slobodanka comes across as self-centered and we never get much characterization of Marijan.
Slobodanka’s nightmares about the angel of death are endlessly dramatic, but never really pay off.
The script is unfocused: it’s narrated from Slobodanka’s perspective but oddly focused on Marijan. A massive photograph of his brooding face is projected against the back wall, but there’s almost no information on the artist or the man. Slobodanka and Marijan are presented as the Taylor and Burton of the Eastern European art world — he’s a sculptor and she’s a painter and indeed they were friends with Liz and Dick. However, the show doesn’t take this interesting fact anywhere. Slobodanka falls gravely ill just before the outbreak of the Serbo-Croatian war — she’s Serbian and Marijan is Croatian — but again, the opportunity for any real drama or tension is lost. Her earlier characterization (where she comes across as spoiled and vain) is so unsympathetic that you feel almost relieved when she finally gets around to dying. Marijan and Slobodanka may have been difficult people, but in a one-woman show a reasonably sympathetic narrator is usually necessary.
The piece is also highly unbelievable — would any woman repeatedly refer to her beloved husband only as “The Croat,” rather than his first name (and the title of the show)? Slobodanka’s nightmares about the angel of death are endlessly dramatic, but never really pay off. On the whole, this show doesn’t know what it’s trying to achieve. We don’t feel much sympathy for Slobodanka or much interest in Marijan and the endlessly fascinating Taylor-Burtons barely factor in. This is one to miss.