by Mallory Moad
A young woman, seated in a bubble bath, tells the story of breaking her hand in a bicycle accident in Brooklyn. On the surface, that’s what happens in Broken Bone Bathtub, a one-woman show by writer/performer Siobhan O’Loughlin. But the deceptively simple premise goes deeper than that.
Based on real life, Broken Bone Bathtub approaches the good that can come from a bad situation. Although her hand is in a cast, Siobhan never stoops to whining or a “poor me” attitude. Instead, she embraces the positive impact this experience has had on her life.
A mix of storytelling (lots of it), support group, and true confessions, Broken Bone Bathtub relies heavily on audience participation. During the performance I attended, we became caregivers, sympathetic listeners, and kindred spirits. Her openness made us feel comfortable opening up, too.
Although the piece is scripted (to a degree, anyway), there was nothing about Siobhan’s presentation that felt staged. The feeling was always one of hanging out with a friend. She has the ability not only to encourage the audience to share, but to pull the story back where it belongs at the appropriate time. Sincere and engaging, she takes a story about herself and turns it into one about us, taking us along on a journey that is delightful and surprisingly moving.
Let’s talk about that bathtub. During Siobhan’s rehabilitation, she was unable to shower, thanks to a cast that extended from wrist to elbow. She was able to borrow the use of a bathtub from various friends and it was their generosity and the conversations that took place during bathing that inspired Broken Bone Bathtub. In order to replicate the intimacy of those experiences, Siobhan performs the piece in actual bathtubs, usually in real bathrooms (the show in Fresno took place in a private back yard). Audience size depends on the size of the venue. Yes, she’s sitting in a tub of sudsy water and she’s naked, but it isn’t an issue. Her nudity is handled in a way that prevents it from becoming salacious or tacky.
For the past three years, Siobhan O’Loughlin and Broken Bone Bathtub have been touring various fringe and performance festivals around the world. I hope she will be returning to a Fresno bathtub in the near future. I look forward to hanging out with her again and sharing more stories, even if it’s in a bathroom.
My name is Mallory Moad and I appreciate and support all kinds of performance, no matter where it takes place.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 5 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean.
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