Birmingham-based all-female company, Kindle Theatre bring their deconstruction of the story of Clytemnestra to the murky caverns under Waterloo Station.
In a production that is part-gig, part-performance, women’s thirst for revenge is presented as a transgressive act. The heavy metal concert is used not merely as a formal device to frame the narrative, but as a means to explore and subvert the morality of revenge. The Furies – known as the Erinyes (Avengers) in Ancient Greek – are winged underworld deities, shape-shifting creatures of myth with serpents in their hair. Confrontational by nature, they go after criminals unpunished by the law, driving them mad, dragging them to their deaths.
In this production, the three performers, Emily Ayres, Samantha Fox and Olivia Winteringham, embody these creatures with a sense of menace and playful femininity. They play around with archetypes – from femme fatale to androgynous rock chick – as they relate Clytemnestra’s story.
In a cacophonous hour, Kindle Theatre play with the mythology in Aeschylus’s Oresteia by underpinning its inherent theatricality. The performers possess a jagged energy tempered by a generic aesthetic: they sport hot pants and ripped stockings, feathers in their hair. There’s an inherent reductiveness to this approach which manifests itself in an underdeveloped visual language. There is something restrained about the exercise, a forced technicality: the piece lacks a real sense of playful experimentation. For all that the piece promises in terms of unleashed emotion and in-your-face feminism, The Furies is surprisingly self-censored and self-constrained. It limits itself by its chosen form and never really cuts loose – it tests the waters but it never dives in.
Though the anarchic, raw energy of a gig is superficially evoked the production never feels genuinely unpredictable or dangerous. There’s a definite sense of confrontation on display but it always feels as if they could go further, that they could tap more into their rage, their fury. The music is pounding, ragged and uneven, studded with grunts, but vocal-scapes aside, this contributes little to the atmosphere of the piece. There is a lack of synchronicity between expression and intention. The underlying idea, of exploring the transgression of grief and revenge, is one rich with possibilities, but these possibilities remain stubbornly underdeveloped.
The Furies seldom delves into its subject or its form. It remains overly-reliant on rock chick stereotypes, on snarling and screaming. There are odd moments of daintiness and a surprising amount of screeching. There’s rage here certainly, but ultimately it feels misdirected.