Maureen: Harbinger of Death
Maureen: Harbinger of Death is an exquisitely crafted theatre piece that touches at the heart of experience.
In a celebration of indomitable elderly women, Jonny Hawkins plays a character of remarkable depth. Drawing on numerous inspirational people and exploring what the stories we tell mean about who we are, this is a work that evokes a sense of humanity that’s deeply moving.
Hawkins’ prowess as an actor is evident immediately. Little more than a pair of earrings and necklaces are utilised to signify his becoming Maureen, yet we have no difficulty envisioning the protagonist.
It’s the subtleties in Hawkins’ movement and expression that show us Maureen with authenticity; his captivating and detailed storytelling that ensure we gain a sense of place.
With only one moment of scene setting and no further imagery beyond small details contained within Maureen’s anecdotes, we are able to picture the protagonist’s surroundings with clarity throughout the show.
Wise and abundant with enthusiasm, our host could be the most idiosyncratic, joyous, and mischievous storyteller we’re likely to meet.
Yet, as we listen to Maureen’s stories, drift with her thoughts and memories, and feel the sharp edges that inevitably cut through the decades of a long life, we become part of a reality that’s grounded in a tender truth.
While a particular story from Greek mythology forms an important part of this play, there’s no need for audience members to have prior knowledge of the narrative to understand its relevance.
The way Maureen catches the audience up on what they may or may not know is seamless and feels genuinely like learning from one’s elder—by relation or intergenerational happenstance.
We all know, or have known, elderly women who are unequivocally heroic yet there remains an overarching narrative of helplessness in our society.
This is a production that refutes that notion, drawing on a range of themes and real-world people to depict the reality of individual strength and the value of connection, kindness, and dignity.