“Performance is always the expanding of compassion,” says actor Alexis Scott. It’s a philosophy she tapped into for the new solo play she’s starring in, Dishwater Blonde, written by David Turkel. Directed by Katherine Wilkinson, the play is told from the perspective of Adolf Hitler's longtime companion Eva Braun at their wedding reception, just hours before they died by suicide.
“It's about a really complicated woman and sitting in time and space with her,” says Wilkinson. “She loves power. She has moments of queerness, and is super violent, and all of these things [women] are not allowed to be [at that time]. She’s not crazy—she made choices, and what does it mean to sit with that?”
Diving into Braun’s psyche means getting a glimpse at her as her own person, but also in the context of her relationship to the man she loved. “Being complicit in evil is a really complicated thing,” says Wilkinson. “Our early conversations were about the beautiful danger of what it means to love a monster,” adds Scott. “Even though the world is saying to her, ‘Leave that guy,’ you have opened up that part of yourself and your heart to being vulnerable in a way that you can justify the monstrosities.”
It’s a dark and provocative moment in time to explore, but luckily there’s an inherent trust between these collaborators, with Turkel and Scott having worked on this piece together since 2016. “Alexis asked me in the summer of 2016 to write her a minute-long monologue from the perspective of Braun on what she might say about Trump,” says Turkel. After the 2016 election, Turkel continued to channel Braun’s voice to reflect on a number of different subjects and current events as they unfolded.
While Scott and Turkel have workshopped these Braun-voiced pieces for several years, Wilkinson joined the team more recently to shape and reorient the series of monologues into a fully realized production. This iteration marks the piece’s New York premiere, taking place in a converted brownstone in Chelsea. While it’s not necessarily immersive, the small space allows for a more intimate environment of connection. Plus, there’s cake and champagne for the audience—it is a wedding reception after all.
The trio describes the piece as “part living poem and part reverie,” as Braun contemplates her own decisions and truths from her life that end up affecting the larger world. Scott says, “If we can watch that journey and understand it and find the humanity, then it makes us all capable of being adjacent to evil and it humanizes everything.”