Writer: Genevieve Hulme-Beaman
Director: Collapsing Horse Theatre Company
Reviewer: Ciara Murphy
amid the familiar black-box theatre space of the Project Arts Centre’s ‘Stage Upstairs, the audience is introduced to a manic and intense young lady who is keen to share her story.
Madeline has grown up on her Grandfathers farm, but due to her adversion to Cows, has to find other ways to amuse herself. Not only content with being the ruler of the chickens, Madeline, played by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman, strives for elegance, beauty, and radiance acting out her life as if she were a movie star. Her efforts at glamour become even more relevant when she falls in love with an older man, 14 year old Johnno Boyle O’ Connor. The young lady, calling herself ‘Madeline Humble-Buttercup’ dreams of the French Rivera, red convertible sports cars and a glamorous and passionate love affair with Johnno. Try as she might, Madeline simply cannot turn her fantasy into reality, encountering bumps in the road at every turn. Every set back turns to rage, and encompassed within that rage is a medley of mania, humour and sheer explosive energy.
It is the intensity of the young female character, played by Hulme-Beaman herself, that really gets and keeps the audience’s attention. Hulme-Beaman portrays a disturbing vision of youth, anger and femininity that not only disturbs the audience, but entertains them, keeping them laughing throughout the short 60 minute performance. Frighteningly convincing, it is easy to see the logic behind Hulme-Beaman’s award for ‘Best Actress’ during Pondling’s first imagining during the 2013 Dublin Fringe Festival. Never missing a beat, the skill in this one-woman show illustrates Hulme-Beaman’s commitment to her work.
The set is of another age with exposed wooden flooring, old musty trunks and wooden crates (useful also as a can-smasher and chicken murdering machine!) Hulme-Beaman tramples about the space like a macabre and frightening whirlwind of energy. As the action of the performance reaches its peak and Madeline is left with yet another clever plan in tatters, the true darkness of Pondling races to the fore, ending in darkness and with resonating applause.
Pondling reinforces the hardships of adolescence. Toying with rage, comedy, and an innocent childishness, Collapsing Horse and Hulme-Beaman have truly delivered a sterling performance.
Photo courtesy of Collapsing Horse Theatre Company. Runs until July 25th.