Presented by Shannan Ely, The Revolt
Reviewed 7 March 2018
Director Shannan Ely has reprised her graduate show for this Fringe performance. The Nida website tells us the show sets out to examine ‘what it is to be divinely feminine, brutally violent and powerful’ by interweaving the parts of Euripides’ Greek tragedy The Bacchae with contemporary stories of modern women.
Although the actors Alexandra Morgan, Chelsea Needham, Grace Stamnas, Cassandra Sorrel and Georgina Adamson all gave stirling performances, being particularly good in the physicality of their roles, I was unsatisfied by the show overall. The switch from fear and confusion to attacking men, at least verbally, was far too stark and unsophisticated.
I was unclear why, when the play begins, the characters awake in a space they don’t know and can’t get out of. Is this a metaphor for the way many women are trapped by circumstances not necessarily of their own choosing? Or does it refer back to Euripides where Greek women were expected to remain contained in their households and the king, Pentheus seems to encourage men to maintain power and control?
The contemporary stories interwoven into the Greek tragedy are powerful – looking at issues such as rape and domestic violence – maintaining the feminist tradition of finding/using one’s voice to raise consciousness amongst other women and men. But this is clearly not enough as we’re still doing it. And what does having the actors dressed in low cut pink nighties contribute to the empowerment of women or to challenge the male gaze?
At the end of the piece the director and performers interact with the audience and discuss the ideas presented in the play. The discussion ranged widely over the male gaze; a female only space; is violence justified; and current movements to secure equality and challenge women’s oppression With no script the somewhat simplistic arguments of the director and performers were manifest.
I was uncomfortable to hear the #MeToo movement described as ‘the MeToo stuff’. It is not just ‘stuff’. Language is important for feminists and feminism, a point that was mentioned in the play and in the discussion afterwards but was not manifest in the actual words used. Words matter – something the director and actors need to remember when discussing what they had hoped to achieve through the performance.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
Rating out of 5: 3
Venue: French Room at Benjamin on Franklin Hotel, 233 Franklin St , Adelaide
Season: 8-10 March 6.30 and 9.00pm
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $28, $23 Conc