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The Seven Pomegranate Seeds review – Euripides tied in knots | Theatre

A fringed curtain of string hangs from ceiling to ground and stretches throughout the auditorium, winding across the seats and, at occasions, across the actors too. This all-encompassing set appears to be like just like the industrious spinning of one in all Louise Bourgeois’s big spiders. But its sense of spectacle doesn’t repay in a manufacturing whose theatricality overwhelms its tales.

Directed and designed by Melly Still, Colin Teevan’s play, first carried out as a staged studying in 2006, is “the result of a long conversation between Euripides and me” in which he resuscitates the sad moms and misplaced youngsters of historical Greek tragedy. A seven-part monologue cycle set in the fashionable day, it options the infamous – and notoriously wronged – girls of Euripidean tragedy: Medea, Phaedra, Hypsipyle, Persephone, Demeter, Alcestis and Creusa. Their tales embrace rape, kidnap and homicide, and centre on maternal ache and loss. But the pathos and depth in Teevan’s script is misplaced on the stage, rendered overly stylised and emotionally absent.

Too much whimsy … Niamh Cusack in The Seven Pomegranate Seeds.
Too a lot whimsy … Niamh Cusack in The Seven Pomegranate Seeds. Photograph: The Other Richard

Niamh Cusack and Shannon Hayes, who share all of the roles, are tasked not solely with transferring between monologues, one usually appearing out what the opposite is narrating and chipping in with dialogue, but in addition manoeuvring the set in addition to traversing a stage that has two higher circles and two plank-like walkways above it.

The actors create a commotion that feels pointless and distracts us from their characters’ internal worlds. Cusack and Hayes are so busy manipulating the set, winding string or working in circles that this appears to inhibit them from going deeper into their roles. The performances seem flighty and frantic, as if the actors are working in and out of these, too.

Hayes’s Medea is just not a filicidal assassin right here however an abused spouse, with Cusack, as her abusive accomplice, appearing out his violence on cushions and on a chalk silhouette on the ground. Cusack’s Phaedra is a drunk who tries to batten down her need for her stepson with alcohol; Hayes performs him wordlessly, flicking by means of a yr 12 course e-book and stating the empty wine bottles unsubtly. Hypsipyle is a teenage childminder gabbling to her good friend on the telephone and fed up with taking care of a wealthy girl’s child, whose cries are performed out by Cusack fairly gratingly as she walks across the stage.

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In the story of Alcestis (a spouse donating an organ at her peril to a husband whose wrecked liver is a results of an excessive amount of partying) Cusack impersonates Pierce Brosnan and the whimsy of the piece simply doesn’t work.

The comedy feels a clumsy match and the drama quavers between archness and earnestness. Potent moments peep by means of and level at misplaced promise, the place much less might have been extra.

  • The Seven Pomegranate Seeds is on the Rose theatre, Kingston upon Thames, till 20 November.

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