Belinda Giblin’s striking performance in Gail Louw’s Blonde Poison examines the atrocious consequences, tormented memories and high price of survival within the German racist regime of World War II.
Stella Goldschlag (Belinda Giblin) glamorous impeccably dressed walks on stage with the confidence and allure of a celebrity.
Beneath this façade is a tortured, complex, selfish, horrific personality haunted while simultaneously assured by her illusions and past decisions.
Decades later her opportunity for possible redemption awaits in her agreement to be interviewed by Paul a childhood classmate, now a respected journalist.
Stella’s obsession with her own beauty and youthful appearance is evident in the vanity of her monologue, the pride of her gestures and the constant preening in front of the free standing mirror.
“I could be fifty forty”…
Her anticipation escalates into a lingering agitation while waiting for the looming interview.
She is trapped by her reminiscences as she unfolds her shocking past.
Her Jewish heritage was arrogantly discarded for a preferred German cultural identity.
Her allegiance to Germany was amplified by her surprising Arian appearance and blonde hair.
Initially Stella, her mother and father naively believe they will be spared the agony and anguish of Jewish extermination in a death camp.
By the time the daunting reality of the situation registers it was impossible to escape Germany.
As the death camp for herself and her beloved parents grew imminent her determination to devise a resolution mounted.
Stella challenges the audience “what would you have done?”
She assumes the role of a ‘greifer’ or catcher for the Gestapo and informs on other Jews in hiding.
Meanwhile her sexual potency and love pursuits are revealed, egotistically and promiscuously, superficially with no regrets. However the grief and agony of losing her child is a deep wound that has disturbing effects.
Last year I was fortunate to interview Belinda Giblin for The Culture Concept Circle. Witnessing her profoundly moving performance gave me another opportunity to honour what must be the professional highlight of a very diverse and distinguished career.
Belinda is flawless in her portrayal of an intensely layered character. Her brilliant and intelligent performance requires astounding energy perseverance fortitude and focus.
At Sydney Opera House until May 12, and in Melbourne at Southbank Theatre in June, the ninety minute schedule is gruelling with Belinda brilliantly sustaining the mannerisms, accent and intent of this compelling drama.
She has clothed herself in the persona of Stella Goldschlag with finesse vigour and the nuances of a wildly self- indulged delusional perpetrator and a hollow and conceited victim of the ravages of depravity within mankind.
Belinda’s delivery of the monologue shaped the visual pictures of a torrid narrative with a clarity that immersed audiences in the dilemmas within her appalling tale.
Jennifer Hagan’s perceptive direction and sharp observations craft a production that is totally absorbing. Her profound understanding and interpretation of the script, discriminating comprehension of Stella’s character and her turmoil is prudently and expertly captured on stage.
Jennifer has invited the audience into Stella’s living room and created the believable ambience of both situation and characterisation.
Designer Derrick Cox wisely and effectively conceived the living room to construct a natural and unobtrusive backdrop allowing the focus and action to remain always on the protagonist.
German music played as the audience sauntered to their seats. Jeremy Silver (Sound) persuasively employed the pre performance time to transfer the audience to the German setting.
Belinda Giblin has said “it is without a doubt the best and most exciting writing that I have experienced in my forty five years as an actor.”
Gail Louw the playwright won the Argus Angel Award for artistic excellence, Brighton Festival and Fringe 2012 for Blonde Poison.
Born in Johannesburg South Africa, Gail Louw is now based in Brighton England
She is Jewish and the death of her mother’s parents in a concentration camp has been significant in both her life and her writing.
Gail has based her play Blonde Poison on a true story. The drama conveys the heinous and evil actions of a Nazi collaborator.
Belinda Giblin showcases a repertoire of theatrical skills that blaze on stage. She is vigilant in her intensity and stamina.
Blonde Poison is a theatrical experience not to be missed.
Rose Niland, NSW Special Features, The Culture Concept Circle, 2016
28 April – 12 May 2016
1 June – 11 June 2016