Reviews PerformanceReviews Published 21 February 2012

The Furies

Old Vic Tunnels ⋄ 9th- 26th February 2012

Canned rage.

Diana Damian Martin

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.


Diana Damian Martin

Diana Damian Martin is a London-based performance critic, curator and theorist. She writes about theatre and performance for a range of publications including Divadlo CZ, Scenes and Teatro e Critica. She was Managing Editor of Royal Holloway's first practice based research publication and Guest Editor for postgraduate journal Platform between 2012-2015. She is co-founder of Writingshop, a long term collaborative project with three European critics examining the processes and politics of contemporary critical practice, and a member of practice-based research collective Generative Constraints. She is completing her doctoral study 'Criticism as a Political Event: theorising a practice of contemporary performance criticism' at Royal Holloway, University of London and is a Lecturer in Performance Arts at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

The Furies Show Info

Produced by mac Birmingham

Directed by Kindle Theatre

Cast includes Emily Ayres, Samantha Fox and Olivia Winteringham

Original Music Kindle Theatre/Jill Dowse




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