The Bald Prima Donna

With parody coming out of its ears, The Bald Prima Donna is a well-acted performance of Eugene Ionesco’s 1950 script. The play features two couples who meet and have whimsical and unconnected conversations set in a household with only a maid and the local fire chief as other characters. The absurdism of this play has become painfully overdone with scripts by the likes of Ionesco, Harold Pinter and Edward Albee being put on here, there and everywhere. When theatre of the absurd is taken to new extremities it can be brilliantly baffling but the Bablake Seekers unfortunately do not bring anything groundbreaking light and remind us why theatre of the absurd can sometimes feel boring. The Bald Prima Donna mocks the English language, common phrases and the meaning of an English existence. The continual plays on words, repetitions of sayings and comical gesticulations that accompany these make for a slick but predictable performance. Once this formulaic concept is established it builds upon it in a labyrinth of language in which getting lost is the inevitable result. There are opportunities to grasp at a modern adaptation of this undeniably excellent script yet they are misplaced with a monotony of delivery that is only broken, confusingly, with exaggerated speech, movements or facial expressions. Indisputably, the comic effect of this absurdist style combined with excellent acting leads to a humorous reception from the audience. Clear diction, if occasionally rushed, and a small dose of physical theatre seems to be what the doctor ordered for this obvious interpretation. The small chuckles that surrounded me from fellow audience members are a good indicator of the inoffensiveness of the show. This performance is certainly not life-changing and rather than leaving the theatre impressed it unintentionally raises the question: ultimately, what is the benefit of a vaguely humorous but confusing absurdist play epitomising being English?

The Blurb

The very English Smiths and Martins are waiting for the Fire Chief to explain the meaning of absolutely everything. Can he? Playwright Ionesco: 'If this play is a parody of anything it is a parody of everything.'