Fifteen years after it was commissioned and performed as a staged reading, Colin Teevan’s contemporary amalgamation of mythical stories receives a stunning production at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. Directed and designed by Melly Still, the text brings to life the legends of female characters from Euripedes’ plays, namely Persephone, Hypsipyle, Medea, Alcestis, Phaedra, Creusa and Demeter, and situates them in the present-day UK. Each story touches upon different themes – rage, fear, vanity, obsession and more – and are tied together with a larger thread of motherhood, grief and loss.
The show is backed by formidable performances by Niamh Cusack and Shannon Hayes who rely on rhythmic vocal delivery and effortless movement quality to bring out the best in Teevan’s text. Hayes’ embodiment of a woman trying to escape an abusive relationship is deeply moving and exceedingly horrifying, for it tugs at memories too close to home. Cusack’s vast range in performance is on display, with her heart-wrenching portrayal of a woman who reunites with her son after 17 long years gripping you intensely. Switching between themselves as the narrator and multiple characters within the story, it’s the tight-knit coordination and effortless call-response between Cusack and Hayes that makes this show an endearing watch as both performers are on top of their game.
Still adds that while Euripedes’ original tales indicate deeper anxiety of the Athenian male society about women, it’s Teevan’s ability to make them more personal, immediate and contextual to our present-day lives is remarkable. This is apparent in its staging, which seeks to place equal emphasis on the spoken word and the performed action with an eclectic stage design that brings together string, paper, chalk, cloth and other texture-based materials to the fore. Given the text’s anthological nature that consists of 7 different stories, Still’s compositional choices change swiftly and effectively to wring out the range of emotions being explored. This is complemented by Malcolm Rippeth’s dynamic light design that juxtaposes moments of heightened reality and numbed trances allow us to appreciate the bending of time, space and action.
The Seven Pomegranate Seeds at the Rose Theatre is a stunning production that not only delights the eye but also tugs at the heart. Teevan’s masterful text not only reimagines ancient Greek mythology legends into the anxieties, happenings, and circumstances of today for contemporary audiences, but also reminds us of the vast gender-based inequities and injustice that continues to exist in this country.
You can watch The Seven Pomegranate Seeds at Rose Theatre in Kingston on Thames till 20th November 2021. Learn more and book your tickets now at the link https://rosetheatre.org/whats-on/the-seven-pomegranate-seeds/
Reviewer: Gaurav Singh Nijjer
Reviewed: 10th November 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★