It can be difficult to move forward when you can't let go of the past. Where you spend your time reminiscing about your younger years as you try to avoid the future that awaits. In Donna De Palma's Twigs That Never Took, a middle-aged woman grapples with her mortality and loneliness as she opens up to the audience about her two lost loves.
There is so much potential for this to be a refreshing exploration on gender roles and ageism, however the show reveals few important or profound realisations. This is most noticeable in the first half that consists of our protagonist Bianca describing her two weddings as well as all the various things one must consider when planning a wedding. While there are humorous moments presented, very little of it leads to anything substantial.
Her inclusion of The Contessa Sisters and their history is a high point of the production, and De Palma uses it well to tie their story to Bianca's. Through this, De Palma paints a vivid portrait of women left uncertain of their place in the world when their partners are no longer with them. By contrast, the shadow puppetry of Bianca's cat quickly overstays its welcome and its surrealism jolts us out of the intimate world we have witnessed up until that point.
Towards the end the show, after a costume change, Bianca talks about the symbolism of a wedding dress and the (lack of) perceived power it possesses. In the same breath, she exasperatedly broaches the subject of ageism and how invisible she feels in her older years. It's a shame then that De Palma doesn't run with these ideas earlier because it is these issues, particularly from the perspective of a middle-aged woman, which would raise some interesting material.
De Palma states she wanted to write this story because there aren't enough roles written for middle-aged women but you can't help but walk out wondering if this is the kind of story Bianca wanted to share. Much like Bianca's life, Twigs That Never Took feels like many missed opportunities in highlighting what it's like to be a single, older woman in society.
Venue: La Mama Courthouse, 349 Drummond St. Carlton.
Season: until 7 July | Wed & Fri 6:30pm. Thur & Sat 8:30pm, Sun 4:00pm
Tickets: $30 Full | $20 Conc
Bookings: La Mama Theatre
Image Credits: Moira Callegari