The play is written largely as a monologue, with Gertrude (Annie Enneking) speaking directly to the audience as confidants. This immediately draws us into her story and wins us to her side. We also see her interacting with her faithful French maid Maria (Taous Khazem), two very different British officers (Pearce Bunting), her guide Fattuh, and friend King Faisal (both played by Munikantha Kulasinghe, who also sits in with the band). As Gertrude and Maria sift through her writings, she shares with us various stories of her past, including losing a man she loved in the war and some of her harrowing adventures. This play doesn't tell the whole story of Gertrude's life, rather it paints a portrait through anecdotes, interactions, and experiences. It's a lovely overview that makes me want to find out more about her. Fortunately a handy timeline is provided that fills in some of the facts of her life and places the play into context.
|Annie Enneking as Gertrude Bell|
(with Munikantha Kulasinghe, photo by Alana Horton)
Before the show and as part of the show, the audience is treated to live music authentic to the period and location. Don't ask me to describe it, but it's fun and lively, as it presents a nostalgic romanticized picture of "Araby." And I think I recognized this song, although the lyrics I remember from my childhood are probably not the correct translation of the original.
The bare stage at the Playwright's Center is populated with a few rugs and pillows (including some in front of the audience that I considered sitting on for a moment) and one versatile set piece - a wardrobe that can be moved around and tipped over to represent a number of different objects and settings (no set designer listed so I will credit prop designer Sarah Salisbury).
I'm fairly new to Workhaus Collective. They've been around for ten years but this is only the third work of theirs I've seen. I did not realize until last night that Workhaus is a Collective of playwrights who take turns in serving as the Artistic Director when their play is being produced. It's a unique structure, and one that seems to work well. Eye of the Lamb is a compelling and engaging new play about a fascinating woman, continuing through this weekend only so get there soon!