Camden People’s Theatre
Reviewed – 22nd August 2019
“As a performer, Spanou is extremely open, with a touch of shyness that makes her endearing”
If someone asked me to choose between abseiling down the Shard and seeing a show that involved audience interaction, I’d be up there faster than you could say, ‘It’s at the Camden People’s Theatre at 9pm, and it’s actually really good.’
There are two reasons why I would prefer to face my fear of heights than go to an interactive show. The first is that the thought of being chosen to participate makes me feel extremely nervous, to the extent that I can’t enjoy the show. The second is that interactive shows can be hit and miss. Whilst some can change the audience’s experience for the better, others fall flat in awkward ways.
With this in mind, I went into Ophelia Rewound with some trepidation, and emerged totally at ease. It is a therapeutic show in many ways, for both the audience and writer/performer Antigoni Spanou. Taking the Shakespearean character as her starting point, Spanou explores the isolating effects of mental health conditions. Since the deaths of her father and the man she loved, Ophelia has lived alone and on the brink of suicide. When a group of unexpected guests arrive, she invites them to share in her last two minutes, during which she dismantles her fears and emerges from the shadows of the men who wronged her.
Spanou tackles sensitive topics engagingly and empathetically, subtly merging sadness and humour to create spectacles out of the most ordinary moments. Ophelia’s attempt to mop up the water from her suicide attempt is awkwardly funny, whilst a game of Never Have I Ever is surprisingly heart-breaking. Each segment feels carefully crafted, both in terms of writing and production design. Joe Iredale’s set, comprised of four white boxes lined up against a wall, contain revelations that constantly surprise. Joseph Thorpe’s lighting design amplifies the emotional content of Spanou’s work, and are beautiful to watch in and of themselves.
As a performer, Spanou is extremely open, with a touch of shyness that makes her endearing. The moment where an audience member joins her on stage (shout out to Jonathan) feels genuine and heartfelt rather than awkward and forced. A personal favourite moment was when Ophelia makes a cup of tea for all the women in the audience. There was a quiet moment where we all sat together as a group, a moment where it didn’t feel like we were in a show at all, but in the company of a friend.
Ophelia Rewound is carefully crafted show about mental health that acts not only as entertainment, but as a tribute to our oft-forgotten inner strength. If I had to choose between abseiling down the Shard and seeing this show two or three more times, I’d be at the Camden People’s Theatre faster than you could say, ‘I am Ophelia, the one that the river cannot keep.’
Reviewed by Harriet Corke
Photography by Ali Wright
Camden People’s Theatre until 25th August as part of Camden Fringe 2019
Last ten shows reviewed at this venue: