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One Woman's Blues

Photo by Jonathan Christman.

Written and performed by Geraldine Hughes
Presented by Anjelica Huston & The Culture Project in association with "That's Us" Productions
45 Bleeker Street at Lafayette
Opened Jan 20, 2005, open-ended
Tues. thru Sat. at 8 p.m., Sat. and Sun. at 4 p.m.
$45 ($20 student rush) (212) 307-4100 or visit Ticketmaster.com
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Jan 21, 2005

Geraldine Hughes proves once again in her one-woman show "Belfastblues" that Ireland is likewise the country of leprechauns and "troubles."

Set in Belfast during the 1970s and 1980s, Belfastblues is the story of a little girl's journey from that war-torn city, to Hollywood, back to Ireland and eventually, to her courageous leap into freedom from her past.

Hughes plays 24 characters, including not only her younger self, but also her parents, her neighbors and the Hollywood exec who got her started on her career. And she does so brilliantly - bringing the characters to life in all their sad and funny humanity.

Jonathan Christman has used digital imagery, light and scenic design to portray behind Hughes the beleaguered city with its harsh poverty and devastation. For indeed, the city itself is the twenty-fifth character in Belfastblues, the catalyst behind this powerful story.

Hughes talks about Bobby Sands' hunger strike, Margaret Thatcher, British troops and battling neighbors. But her heart is with the children who cringe with fear, who defy soldiers, who do not relinquish hope.

Anjelica Huston and The Culture Project present "BELFAST BLUES" written and performed by Geraldine Hughes with contributing direction by Carol Kane. Now in performance at The Culture Project (45 Bleecker Street). Photo by Jonathan Christman.

If Hughes has drawn on her own life to create Belfastblues, she has summoned all of her considerable acting talent and training (she is a graduate of UCLA's School of Theatre, Film & Television) to perform it. Whether she's her mother holding her belly and rushing to the delivery room, a little girl eagerly accepting the communion wafer then wondering why God has failed to protect her, or her father drinking himself to death, Hughes tells her story with humor and compassion.

Although Hughes's memories are often painful, she is never bitter. The "troubles" seem to be a vast tangled network of people and events that traps its victims from birth until death. It's hard to know whom to blame, although the English bear historical guilt.

If Hughes has escaped this world, part of her heart is still there. For that reason her act is also an act of love.[Simmons]

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