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24 September 2014
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February 2005
Ovid’s Women at The BT
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Ovid's Women

Ovid's Women


The Burton Taylor

1st - 5th February at 9.30pm

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By Harriet Mancey-barratt

Rice-Oxley’s production, composed of monologues based on Ovid’s Heroides, tells the tales of five women, known to us through myth and cultural stereotype. Helen, Medea, Penelope, Dido and Hypermnestra have been ravaged by the war in Troy, whether from a distance or by direct experience, and then variously let down by their men. Their situations collide curiously, despite their disparate political allegiances, and their stories reveal them as pawns, commodities. They are also very moving and very cleverly written.

The stories were woven together in an engaging manner. Even someone with no previous knowledge of any of their stories could have picked up their situations, yet the script was never patronising or boring. Nanw Rowlands really stood out as the bitter, dignified Medea, screaming into the void left by her husband Jason, and epitomising both queenliness and angry heartbreak. Heather Oliver as Dido was similarly believable, and really brought her story to life without ever descending into platitudes.

In fact, the script as a whole was a very well-considered piece of both translation and drama. Even more impressive is the fact that the writer, Kaffy Rice-Oxley, was due to play Hypermnestra but unfortunately had to pull out just two weeks ago due to illness. Yet not once was it apparent that this was a play potentially chaotic due to this late change-around; not one of the actresses let down the others. In fact, the five women were sympathetic in performance, dealing well with a script that spliced together their stories and complaints.

This could have been a play shot with cliché and ill-acted emotion. In fact, it was nothing of the sort; you really felt true tragedy was at work. In fact, it was so involving that at the end of its 45 minutes weren’t quite long enough. I’d have liked a little longer amid the involving sorrow, anger and grief of Ancient Greece.

The views expressed in these comments are those of the contributor's and not the BBC.

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