Acorn11th October 2016
Meet the Team here!
A new play by Maud Dromgoole.
“I am not going to live happily ever after. That’s not my story.”
We live in a time where women are in the spotlight, and preconceptions of womanhood are under intense scrutiny. Masses of Twitter users ridicule Kim Kardashian as she’s robbed of her jewellery at gunpoint. European women take to the streets en masse to protest Poland’s proposed abortion restrictions. Donald Trump casually discusses assaulting women.
Maud Dromgoole’s latest play here at The Courtyard examines the social and psychological ramifications of female choices through a modernisation of two stories which are foundational in the Western literary cannon. Greek mythology is “exploded” as director Tatty Hennessy puts it, and the result is a dark, lyrical exploration of British femininity, at once both charming and comical, while simultaneously poignant.
Eurydice (Lucy Pickles), mythologically speaking was a wood nymph, wooed, courted and won by Orpheus, a musician. On the day of their wedding, Eurydice is killed by a snake bite. Grief-stricken, Orpheus ventures into the Underworld to beg Hades for the return of his lost love. Hades acquiesces, but on the sole condition that Orpheus venture out of Hell trusting that his wife is following him, forbidden to look behind. Just as he’s about to enter the living world, however, his resolve fails him, and he takes just one glimpse behind to see his Eurydice being pulled away forever.
Persephone (Deli Segal), meanwhile, is Hades’s bride and the queen of the Underworld, her story used by the Greeks to explore the changing of the seasons, and often represented through the use of pomegranate seeds.
Dromgoole has peppered this piece with symbolic imagery for those literary audience members who enjoy a good reference. This episodic one-act opens with a flash of lights as the two women, one in a doctor’s scrubs and the other in an ethereal white dress enter the stage through a collage of projected images. Segal’s doctor is overworked and underpaid, as so many in the NHS are, awkwardly practising her bedside manner.
Eurydice, meanwhile, stands in her wedding dress, relating the fables of her imagination, and her fast approaching nuptials. The women share monologues, each speaking directly to the audience, existing in independent worlds, but often finishing each other’s sentences, almost as if their thoughts are overlapping and colliding like a crashing tide of subconscious made verbal. As Eurydice engages Persephone in a nonsensical game of chess, it becomes clear that Dromgoole is inviting the audience into a conversation on the relationship between reality and the conscious mind. There are several more of these mad meetings, all the while interspersed with the increasingly menacing audio of “men in van”. Other points of discussion include dreams, death, and snakes.
Arguably these two figures represent the dichotomous options for women in the modern world; either the extreme of a bubbly romantic or the other of a cold-hearted shrew. One of the points here being that there are very few options provided by society for women in between. However, the story of this play’s formation is perhaps just as interesting as the play itself... Acorn’s naissance is a testament to the power of community. Four friends and artists decided to make a play, tackling the pressures we feel every day, with talent, passion and ingenuity. The deep trust these women have in each other is obvious. Hennessy’s seamless, stylish staging illuminates Dromgoole’s vulnerable, versatile and at times volatile text. Meanwhile the effortless fervour of the actresses concretes that this is a group of theatre makers who will be augmenting London stages with their talents for years to come. We hope this won’t be the last time they do so together.