dfp_header_hidden_string

Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Poor Beck review at Soho London

by -

Clusters of blue balloons hang from the roof to remind inhabitants of the sky, while grass has become dozens of glowing tubes hurled across the floor. This is an underground city to which survivors fled from some unspecified horror – “the day the sky fell in” – a day when Louise Bangay’s mother figure recalls “running like Chicken Licken.”

Joanna Laurens’ drama, based on one of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, tells the story of Myrrha and her sexual longing for her own father, set in this post-apocalyptic bunker, where an initial state of sexual license has been replaced by the old moral certainties and incest is again unthinkable.

But a roving merchant, the Poor Beck of the title, played with astonishing power by Louis Hilyer, arrives offering blades of grass and flowers as proof that the surface area is now safe to reinhabit. And in no time at all he has seduced Myrrha’s Mum and persuaded the daughter that coupling with her blind, patriarchal dad would be the most natural thing to do in this bleak netherworld.

As a dramatist with a phobia about theatrical naturalism, Laurens last gave London playgoers a bad time with her Five Gold Rings, non-semantic blank verse coupled with semi-literate syntax. She is at it again with more hints of obscure TS Eliot imagery. But thanks to some marvellously lucid speech work by Greg Hicks as the father and Sian Brooke as his daughter Myrrha, Daniel Fish’s production positively glows with resonant meaning, building tautly to its melodramatic conclusion.

Production Information

Soho, London, March 11-16

Author
Joanna Laurens
Director
Daniel Fish
Producers
RSC New Work Festival, Soho Theatre Company
Cast
Louise Bangay, Sian Brooke, Greg Hicks, Louis Hilyer
Running time
1hr

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.

Subscribers to The Stage get 10% off The Stage Tickets’ price
^