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Theseus is Dead
Published on Wednesday, 24 August 2011

4 stars

C venues - C soco (venue website)
3-14, 16-29 Aug, 6:15pm-7:15pm
Reviewed by Carmel Doohan

 Parental Guidance. Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Based on Racine's seventeenth century play Phaedre, this is a story of death, incest and unrequited love. In Greek mythology Phaedre is the wife of Theseus – and her forbidden love for her step-son leads her and those around her to a tragic end.

The language used is beautiful, and a skilled and natural delivery allows the audience to remain engaged, whether or not they are following the twists and turns of Ancient Greek politics. Although the complicated story is sometimes made more so by the of switching of roles (and a non-existent set), this cast is a joy to watch; Charlotte Matham (Phaedra) and Sibylle Bernardin (Oenone) are mesmerising, performing a difficult text with clarity and feeling.

The Effort are a collaboration of artists based in Brixton who create film, theatre and music. As a DIY initiative, they receive minimal funding, yet their production is impressively polished and professional. Passions feel authentic and the tension between preserving reputation and acting on instincts is held throughout.

This is a serious piece of classical theatre, and the cast build an engrossing and moving tale out of nothing but the intensity of their performances. Moments of grief sometimes seem overacted, but for that we should blame the size of the room.  These are young actors showcasing their formidable skills, and are not about to let the fact they are staged in basement hold them back.

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