"Magnetic Mysterious Dominating and Repressed"
by Hassan Vawda for remotegoat on 19/01/13

With ancient incomplete lines, Sappho has been dug up in tiny shards and engaged with by the spectrum of all literary criticism through history to give or force her a voice. Whether it is from the phallic professors who plough her as a poet or the orifice fuelled wisdom of those who adore her as the poster scroll for Lesbos liberation, she is ultimately as the play shouts out 'broken bones and shredded skin… ripped and torn… fragmented…'

This performance from Second Skin Theatre of a source material that collides ancient and modern identities, desires and relief brings another dimension to the original play by Jane Montgomery Griffiths, Sappho…in 9 Fragments. It is a spectacular visual and physical piece with director Jessica Ruano and actress Victoria Groves swaying through the material with a gracious dance between an improvised energy and choreographed poignancy. As we are taken through blurred holes in time and space, the play grabs onto those impossible to grasp themes of inner and outer sexuality but the performance here grabs it, rips and tears it and pushes out all those bubbling fluids in to our glass.

Victoria Grove is fantastic, she is magnetic and mysterious, dominating and repressed, she really captures a fragmented whole but with an energy that I have no idea how she kept turned up for the entire 70 minutes. It is like a fireworks display that you are glued to and every jet of sparkling light explodes with a wonderful climax. However as much as this works in terms of performance, the weaving energies of the director control and actors freedom and the sheer explosion of performance sometimes, not always worked in a way that overwhelmed the core script, or proved too contrasting or toned too high that it more felt as distraction rather than interpretation. These moments however are not as frequent as when it does work and the physical performance seamlessly carries the intricate words and tone.

There is one more thing I would like to add is the space at The White Rabbit Theatre was just perfect. I was not surprised at all to find out that the performance was created with this particular space in mind because it is so intimate and compliments it so well that you could make an argument for it being a supporting actress.

Do try and catch this performance in this perfect setting and even grab a Sappho inspired cocktail to add to the explosions of timeless expression.

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