Once upon a time, in the deep dark woods…
Actress Jenny O’Hara takes on the darker and realer side of a fairytale witch in the one woman presentation of, Broomstick, a West Coast premiere now playing at the Fountain Theatre.
Hands-down the best “timing” actress I quite possibly have ever experienced on a stage, Ms. O’Hara, in a thick Appalachian drawl, utterly embraces the poetic line, of playwright, John Biguenet’s “wicked old woman.” At one turn empathetic in another cunning, she is utterly masterful — owning the language, and wielding the power of persuasion, spells and curses, spinning a voracious, intimate tale of life as an “unusual”. She claims dominion over bugs and weather. She is mischievous, sharp-tongued, even a bit malificent. She may even eat children. One can never tell in the dim shadows of a messy cottage where cooking is art and sweet. She is wise, kind and fair, but anger her, treat her unjustly and she can be vengeance itself.
It’s a deceptively tricky role navigating this multidimensional character so much more often presented as simply good or evil. Ms. O’Hara has no trouble at all pulling out the juiciest moments for the audience to bite down on, just as ravenously as we might eat her suckling pig. So large, so comically, so real does she play this character, that I cannot think of anyone who could pull it off quite as well or at all.
Set in Appalachia and written entirely in rhymed iambic pentameter, Biguenet’s truly mesmerizing solo play introduces us to a wacky bizarre old woman living in a little shack deep in the woods…who may happen to be a witch. When a visitor, and one time runaway now grown, stops in unexpectedly, storytelling and truth meld together into a half-real, half-fantasy confession.
It’s exotic, funny, harsh, bitter and profound as the Witch reveals her childhood innocence, sexual awakening, and all of the poignant moments that have conjured to create her as she is in the present moment.
“In some ways, she’s positioned to be the freest of all human beings,” says playwright and New Orleans professor John Biguenet, who started writing this piece in 2009. “She’s seen everything, done everything. She doesn’t need a man. She has the potential to live with the complete knowledge of what it is to be a human being.”
This show far surpasses folk and fairytale, from sets, sound, lights, direction and spoken word. Ms. O’Hara is bewitching “perfection” in this exquisite performance!
Not to be missed under any condition!
Starring Jenny O’Hara