Siren review at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh – ‘its bite is sharp’

Rosa Robson in Siren at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Rosa Robson in Siren at Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh. Photo: Alex Brenner

A single siren sits on her island, aching for companionship but destined to consume each stray sailor that drifts her way. That’s the set-up for David Elms’ melancholy and bittersweet two-hander.

The siren reels them in before sending them to a messy death. That’s her nature, she can’t override it, but you can see the regret and confusion, the craving for intimacy and connection, as she bears her teeth.

Elms’ strange little play is a grower. Its bite is sharp. Rosa Robson plays the creature of myth in a retro one-piece bathing costume, with a smear of blood on her lips. She sings songs to lure in her catch. These compositions, by Freddie Tapner, Elms’ collaborator on Nick Mohammed‘s Mr Swallow musicals, are suitably beguiling and Robson’s voice is sweet.

She’s an engaging performer, wide-eyed and endearing, greeting each new piece of human flotsam with the same hopeful smile. All the men who float her way are played by Nicholas Masters, wearing a lifeguard’s vest and rollerblades. Sometimes these men are grabby, all hands. Sometimes they’re silent. One at first appears to be a water-borne corpse.

Siren is both a twisted metaphor for modern dating and an exploration of gender and power while also operating as an entertaining exercise in horror-comedy. Neither of these aspects feels quite as developed as they could be and, as a result of its episodic structure, Thomas Martin’s production is a little lacking in momentum. But it’s a pleasing piece in many ways.

Funny, bittersweet and engagingly performed repurposing of Greek myth – with songs