I was invited to watch a performance of a play which was performed entirely in someone’s actual bathroom. Keen to re-live my days as a drama student, as bizarre as it was to consider actors making themselves throw-up as theatre, I was intrigued.
It was only about a fifteen minute walk away too, so I set off to find the address, which turned out to be a lovely house, and wasn’t sure whether to enter through the front door, or through the back garden, which was lit invitingly and indicated that was the right way to go.
After ringing the front door only to be told, through mime, to go round the back way, I joined the audience in the homely kitchen, snacks galore (YAY).
We were informed that Siobhan was “ready” for us after a half hour wait, so we entered the bathroom not knowing what to expect – will there be room for us all? Towels? And, the most obvious question, will we have to avert our eyes?
Turns out Siobhan had plenty of bubbles in the bath, so nothing was seen that would cause awkwardness, and the cast which had her broken hand was propped up on the side of the tub, with herself hunched over as if in thought – distress?
The play itself is about Siobhan’s real-life experience falling off a bike after a collision with another cyclist in New York City, where Siobhan used to live but is, for the time being, touring across the globe with this play, in different bathrooms.
She interacted with us, asking us questions which sprang up randomly, like a conversation: “When was the last time you held someone’s hand?” was aimed at me at one point, which, unfortunately, was not Justin Bieber, but was my grandmother.
I found I was quite willing, after the first section of the play unfolded, to tell Siobhan and entire strangers (bar my friend) about how at my graduation in July, my granny said she was very proud of me, and recognised that she had tears in her eyes when I said that I’m grateful she was there.
Without saying anything we both knew that we wished my granddad could have been there, and I automatically held her hand to show I knew what she wanted to say. After the reflection, Siobhan highlighted how holding a hand is a very intimate thing to do between humans – we express emotion through hands to show others help, sympathy, anger, and many other expressions.
Siobhan would carry on her conversation with us about how she broke her hand, which had healed but she wore a cast to represent that she really missed her hand at that moment in time. The reason she was performing in a bath was because she had to ask people to help her out and wash her hair etc.
Towards the end of the piece, you could really sense that there was a change in the room – apart from the fact that the bath water was probably getting colder – as everyone had shared experiences and a bathroom, in my eyes, was somewhere to reflect and private to the individual.
The most poignant part of the play for me was when I was asked: “When was the last time you felt really alone?” I mentioned numerous times, most recently losing friends, relationships ending, family loss, but always reassured myself that the ones who were still sticking around and spending time with me, or family that were still living, I should appreciate them and they always brought me back round.
I would recommend going to watch Siobhan’s play simply because it evokes what most of us are afraid of revealing to others, what we are insecure about, wanting to ask for help when we really need it, or simply being able to admit that crap happens and that life is unfair – Siobhan has written about a time when she felt incapable of doing what she wanted to do in daily life, but as she eventually healed she not only wrote a cracking play, but made discoveries about herself as well.
To find out how to watch ‘Broken Bone Bathtub’, visit http://siobhanoloughlin.com/