In October of 2014, Brooklyn playwright and performer Siobhan O’Loughlin embarked on an unusual tour of New York City. Her arm was in a cast following a head-on collision with another cyclist that resulted in two broken fingers, and she didn’t want to risk getting it wet in the shower. Her small Brooklyn bathroom, however, didn’t have a bathtub.
Using social media, the Bushwick native called on friends and acquaintances to let her use their bathtubs, never bathing twice in the same place so as not to overly inconvenience any one person. People across Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens opened their homes to her. Some even provided candles, bubble bath, and chocolates.
The kindness she experienced in a time of need inspired her latest performance piece, Broken Bone Bathtub, where an intimate audience of six to eight people joins her in a bathroom as she takes a bath and shares her story. After sold out shows in the UK, Japan, and across the U.S., Broken Bone Bathtub has come to New York, with dozens of performances across the city, including two dates in DUMBO on January 13 and 20, at 7 and 9 p.m. You can buy tickets — which are going fast — here.
As you may have gathered, Broken Bone Bathtub is not a typical theatrical experience. In addition to the unusual venue, which necessarily means that everyone is very close to the performer and each other, the piece itself calls for audience participation. O’Loughlin may ask someone for help washing a spot hard for her to reach, and encourages audience members to share their own stories.
“The marvel of one person pouring water on my head in front of a group of strangers while someone else tells a story about their personal history is, I think, truly impossible to obtain in a traditional theatre format,” says O’Loughlin.
Broken Bone Bathtub, presented by indie theater and film company Elephant Run District, has been well received by audiences and critics alike. The Belfast theater company Shot Glass said that “Broken Bone Bathtub is as much fun as nine people can have in a stranger’s bathroom within the strictures of the law,” and LA Weekly called it “genuine and joyful.”
If nothing else, it’s bound to be the best play you’ve ever seen performed from a bathtub.