Damsel Productions’ third show confirms that this young team can pick a great play. And that co-founder/director Hannah Hauer-King is a confident, fresh talent. An intelligent interaction with the story of Medea, achingly contemporary and set on a South London council estate, Phoebe Eclair-Powell’s script has a brave lyricism and the production is gut-wrenchingly gripping.
There are more topical concerns here than you can shake a stick at: gentrification, a clash of classes and the collapse of the welfare state. Yet there’s no trace of ticking boxes, rather a sincere wish to question the demonisation of a “terrified and lonely” single mother. Sarah Ridgeway takes the main role, a performance magically more than the sum of its parts, made intense by the play’s aim of “showing us the pieces of her life”.
An Argonaut is notably absent here. Instead there’s an upstairs neighbour, a student called Tom who comes to dominate and abuse. The role is perhaps the play’s weakest link as he’s too creepy from the start, besides the fact that anyone at college who hires a cleaner is suspect. Thankfully, when a truly evil side is shown, Hauer-King has established enough momentum for Alex Austin to shine in the part.
Eclair-Powell’s most fruitful synthesis from Euripides is the reconfiguration of the Greek chorus. Performed by a talented trio, Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Daniel Kendrick and Anita-Joy Uwajeh, they are beautifully choreographed and their singing sounds great. They do so much: shaping action and interpretation, by turns interrogatory, accusatory and sympathetic. Adopting secondary characters roots us in the real world and ensures Fury is stimulatingly layered.
Towards the bloody finale, the chorus appear as social workers. This Medea’s revenge and desperation is not focused on a single man. Casting her net as wide as can be, Eclair-Powell’s ambition is brilliantly refocused – it isn’t just one woman’s life we see on stage but our whole society.
Until 30 July 2016
Photo by The Other Richard