Deborah Pugh’s one-woman performance, presented by Ad Infinitum Theatre Company, a co-creation between Deborah Pugh and George Mann, draws inspiration from Greek myths, channelling their epic power through a contemporary feminist lens.
Beautiful Evil Things revolves around Medusa and her story. As she recounts the events that led to her head adorning Athena’s shield, she captivates the audience with tales of three Greek heroines: the fearless Amazonian queen, Penthesilea, engaged in a captivating duel with Achilles during the Trojan War; the prophetic Cassandra, cursed with the gift of foresight but doomed to be unheard; and the vengeful mother Clytemnestra, who seeks justice for her slain child.
With its grand storytelling and potent script, the performance envelops us with the sheer energy emanating from the stage. Directed by George Mann, Pugh’s performance fully uses her skills. She embodies multiple roles with epic fervour, seamlessly weaving their complex stories together. Her portrayal is magnetic and captivating. The stage features minimal props, primarily a microphone, which Pugh wields with almost magical mastery, transforming it into a spear, an arrow, an axe, and even a walking stick to portray Hecuba’s broken state after Troy’s defeat. Pugh moves with agility and even ferocity, commanding the stage like a true Gorgon, conveying the action of war and the moral strength of her characters with mastery.
The show’s strength rests on her shoulders as she adeptly adapts to various characters, narrative timelines, and stories. The script is well-written and skillfully woven together, making the performance captivating. However, the show’s main drawback is its need for more innovation. While clever in its modernization of classical material, Beautiful Evil Things ultimately revisits well-trodden territory without providing a distinctly contemporary twist or originality that would make it truly stand out.
A whirlwind of strength and dramatic intensity showcased by a skilled and talented actress yet set against material that might feel relatively lacklustre to a savvy contemporary audience familiar with classical adaptations.
Reviewer: Anna Chiari
Reviewed: 25th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: