Venue: Old 505 Theatre @ 5 Eliza St (Newtown NSW), Jan 19 – 23, 2016
Playwright: Clare Hennessy
Director: Carissa Licciardello
Cast: Rebecca Day, Tiffany Hoy, Henriette Tkalec
The femme fatale is a figure usually conjured up as a source of threat to the masculine of our species. She seems sexual, devious and powerful, but only exists in opposition, having no meaning independent of her male counterparts. In Clare Hennessy’s Femme Fatale, we look at humankind’s first three women according to Western mythology; Eve, Lilith and Pandora, and their conception as originators of evil and sin. Each were made responsible for releasing to the world a perpetuity of harm. Their myths have framed womanhood as initiator in the eradication of purity and goodness, and the feminine is forever tainted with malice.
The writing is unabashedly poetic, and although full of passion, its structure is insufficiently dramatic. Its abstraction has a deliberate and obscure beauty, but is of the sort that can be too alienating for emotional connection. The production’s atmosphere of foreboding is effectively orchestrated, although greater variation in style and tone between scenes could prove to be more rewarding. The cast is well-rehearsed and each actor shows excellent commitment, with Henriette Tkalec’s intense presence leaving the strongest impression.
It is not the most communicative of works, but its intentions are thoughtful and sincere. We can always rely on politics to give theatre its fire, and Femme Fatale is certainly spirited, buoyed by its many exciting, sometimes repetitious, ideas and inspirations. It makes an unambiguous feminist statement with what it attempts to say, but more so in how the show is put together. These young women have pooled their talents in collaboration for a piece that exists against all odds, in a landscape that is tenaciously patriarchal. No matter how we look at it, Australian theatre is still a boys’ club, but the bad girls are here to stay, and their ripple effect has begun.