Fringe Theatre

Mata Hari:The Musical


Carmody Wilson

ONE Star

Who is the real Mata Hari? I’m none the wiser after seeing this Punchline Theatre production. The frequent mumblings of “Madame Zelle” at the beginning initially led me to wonder if the performers were merely being under-zealous in their French pronunciation, but a moment of clarity struck that this might be Mata Hari’s actual surname. Actors fretted about the stage, committing sins of enunciation and projection, slouching in ill-fitting clothes. There was a curious theme of short trousers. Where there was singing, a great deal of it was hard on the ear. The liberal sprinkling of expletives seemed to be an attempted substitute for wit, and a jarring dis-unity of tone had “Madame Zelle" sing out ‘I hope my prince comes…all over my face!” And she later sings, without a scrap of irony, “I know he thinks I’m promiscuous, but we all need someone to rescue us.” Mata Hari: The Musical veers wildly between earnest and glib, and turns what is a fascinating story of treason and seduction into a flaccid pulp plot. Where is Mata Hari in all of this? What happened to her? What emerges is not the story of the alleged courtesan-cum-spy but of a vapid quipster who inspired the undying love of all men around her. And then she was shot. Nothing more.