Acorn, Courtyard Theatre - Review

© Image: Hannah Ellis

The compulsion to tell stories is as old as mankind itself. In fact it this, among other things, that sets humans apart from the rest of the animal kingdom. Written by Maud Dromgoole and directed by Tatty Hennessy,  Acorn looks at how this primeval urge and how it's been sublimated in 21st century culture.

Lucy Pickles plays the part of the fabled Eurydice, (whose husband famously tried to bring her back from the dead) in attire that suggests the legend of old. While her story is 'on record', the order and the way certain things are shown are anything but predictable. In contrast, Dili Segal plays an updated version of Persephone. The original character from Greek legends was also carried off to the Underworld, spending half of the year there – the rest among the living. Likewise, Segal's Persephone has her foot in two worlds, working as a junior doctor with the dying, but indignant that empathy is a requisite for moving on in her career. She recalls how the terminally ill are compelled to talk about their lives so that a small part of them lives on. Being remembered means that their lives have meaning, that they're making one last bit of human contact before the inevitable... Not that Persephone places a value on breaking down the barriers between doctors and patients...

First showing Eurydice as happy on her wedding day, cryptic clues about her fate and past periodically appear, which also subtly allude to the minutiae of Persephone's story. In addition to the overlapping of their tales, other fragment of narratives are introduced, some via audio cues, other via visual projections. This overlapping of their tales, literally and metaphorically, makes for an intriguing juxtapositioning of ideas – interesting to watch but very little to do with the original myths that inspired them.

As a modern interpretation of the Greek myths, Dromgoole's writing shows a lot of thought and intelligence. However, an exploration on the significance of the feminine in myth and storytelling is a huge subject – something that can't be adequately addressed in an hour. Acorn's premise is certainly a great idea and one that provide an inexhaustible source of material for exploration in the future.

© Michael Davis 2016

Acorn runs at Courtyard Theatre until 29th October 2016.


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