Woman Bomb by Ivana Sajko
Image © Richard Hubert Smith
This British debut is an intimate, challenging and complex play, Woman Bomb presents a dialogue between a writer and her fictional character- a female suicide bomber- who only has twelve minutes and thirty-six seconds to live until her body is blown to bits. Within this monologue a complex set of circumstances both fictional and factual are woven to create a discourse on the problematics, politics and realities surrounding this social phenomenon.
The stage is lined with a pavement reaching up to a desk, filled with piles of paper, and the performers invade the space with white pleated dresses. The papers reveal the real facts; the rest is articulated by the performers in dialogue with a projection; the timer is ticking, time is leaking and the issue is getting more and more complex. This fragmentation, disparity and distancing from the topic are present in the mechanism of the play- so the dialogue between design and form is expressed, developing throughout the performance.
Woman Bomb is an intricate postmodern monologue that creates a compelling dramaturgical dialogue within both its structure and performance. Under Vanda Butkovic and Maia Milatovic-Ovadia’s careful direction, one character is performed by three different women. The positions within the performance are disseminated and articulated clearly, leaving space for a formal discussion about who the female suicide bomber is, and what motivates that act.
Woman Bomb is fast-paced, challenging and unforgiving. The three female cast members are in a constant game of power struggles- Nikki Squire and Laura Pradelska are sometimes passionate writers, other times malevolent inquisitors, and Laura Harling carriers the mind of the suicide bomber with compelling confidence.
What’s so vitally potent about Woman Bomb is its position within British contemporary text-based theatre. Ivana Sajko’s play challenges formal boundaries of what a play should be, its skeleton and dialogue with content in a way that British playwrights tend to avoid. Sajko is not afraid to break narrative, isolate textual arguments and reveal the process to the audience. The play is deconstructive of its own mechanisms in the same way that it is of its content, and this act reveals a complex set of dramaturgical politics in antithesis with the socio-political implications of the content.
It’s a worthy, brave and loud performance that holds together beautifully as an exercise in formal discourse, unleashing a powerful discourse on the politics of female suicide bombers along the way. There couldn’t have been a better time to ask the right questions.