*Disclaimer: I attended this show for free in exchange for blogging about it.
The below opinions are still my own and not influenced by this in any way.
What happens when you pluck six women out of Shakespeare’s plays, jazz them up a bit and throw ‘em in a room together? Instead of Lady Macbeth, you get Emma: Still a powerhouse, still ambitious but a bit less murderous. What about Ophelia? Would she be the same? Maybe not… Effie, inspired by both Ophelia and Hamlet, still struggles with her mental health, but wouldn’t any actor with 20 jobs? Who is Juliet without Romeo? Chilling with her best mate Ros, pre-drinking and essay writing. When “shrew” Kate isn’t causing drama, she resides on her yoga mat…to eat Nutella. When it all goes tits up, Delia the Diffuser is always at hand. You know, they always say it’s the quiet ones? No wonder Shakespeare didn’t put this feisty lot in the same play!
Last week I headed South of the river to the confusingly named Theatre N16 (why isn’t this oop North in Stoke Newington??) for press night of the delightful Heroines, Emberfly Theatre’s first full production. Not one, not two, not three but six females leads take to the stage and I loved the juxtaposition of the all female cast and writing team with the knowledge that when they were first shown to the public Shakespeare’s plays would have been performed by an all male cast.
At just an hour it is a short production with a bit of fourth wall breaking by Emma aka Lady Macbeth to set the scene. The rest of the characters live together in shared housing and the plot revolves around their relationships to each other more than their individual stories. I don’t know why but this surprised me, I thought their stories would bounce off one another rather then being so intertwined. The actresses were strong in their roles and I had particular love for Jules, iPhone surgically attached to her hand and ruminating over the number of kisses she should end her text to Romeo with and loud, bolshy Kate who’s secret isn’t nearly as troubling as feared.
As someone who is not particularly clued up on the works of Shakespeare though the mix of modern language and passages from Shakespeare’s original text did get a tad confusing for me and I struggled to see what they added to the plot. Overall, it’s a light-hearted show and actually quite funny prompting many more laugh out loud moments than anticipated. For me though it was much too short and left me wanting to know more about what happens to these ladies. Do they escape the fate laid out for them in the original texts or are they doomed from the beginning. It was certainly thought provoking and indeed Emma leaves us with food for thought of our own at the end – do any of the women in your life remind you of Shakespeare’s heroines?