A sitar player sets a sultry tone for this one-woman biography of Mata Hari, the mystique-shrouded dancer and courtesan who was tried as a spy during the First World War.
Hari claimed to have exotic origins, but was actually Dutch. She tantalized French and German audiences and attracted countless well-heeled lovers with her risqué, partially nude performances. When war broke out, her many liaisons with military officers seemingly came back to haunt her.
Petite but regal local writer-performer Talia Pura (Demons of the Mind, Metamorphosis) brings strong presence to the story, told in the first person and aided by recorded voices. She wears gorgeous costumes, carries off Hari’s veil-swirling dances, and conveys the horror of her subject’s harrowing end.
But the 90-minute show feels long and repetitive, as Pura does seemingly endless wardrobe changes and takes us through too many biographical details. The show would be richer with less reliance on data and more imaginative efforts to unveil Hari’s essence.
— Alison Mayes
From the official Fringe Festival program:
Previous FRINGE HITS:
Confessions of an Art School Model, Metamorphosis, Demons of the Mind
Talia is Mata Hari: exotic dancer, toast of Europe, mistress of princes and generals, accused of causing the deaths of thousands of French soldiers in WWI.
Was she a spy or simply a courtesan with too many secrets?
Warnings: Subject Matter, Language, Nudity,
RECOMMENDED: Mature Audience
Venue#4 Onstage at the Playhouse 180 Market Ave (Entrance on John Hirsch Pl)