Tag Archives: Hannah Khalil

The War

15 Heroines – The War


Jermyn Street Theatre Online

The War

15 Heroines – The War

Online from Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 8th November 2020



“a fabulous piece of theatre that brings new life to the forgotten women of the Trojan War”


Presented by Jermyn Street Theatre and Digital Theatre+, The War is one of three sets of five monologues in the 15 Heroines series. 15 Heroines takes its inspiration from the Roman poet Ovid’s epistolary work The Heroides which lends a voice to the aggrieved women of ancient mythology as they vent their frustrations to their heroic lovers.

The War, directed by Adjoa Andoh, Tom Littler and Cat Robey, provides a platform for Laodamia, Oenone, Briseis, Hermione and Penelope, all of whose lives have been disrupted by the Trojan War. The bitter war, rather aptly, actually began over a woman. After Aphrodite offered Helen, the most beautiful woman in the world, to the Trojan prince Paris, Helen’s husband, Menelaus, King of Mycenaean Sparta, set sail a fleet of a thousand ships to besiege Troy and take her back.

Laodamia (Sophia Eleni) is first up, reimagined as a ‘chavvy’ young woman worrying about her partner, Protesilaus, at war. Protesilaus was the first Greek killed at Troy, and his death drives the young Laodamia to insanity. Here, however, we see Laodamia before her tragic end, hoping and praying that her lover will return to her safely. Oenone (Ann Ogbomo), the first wife of Paris who was discarded for Helen, comes next. Oenone delivers her monologue to Paris as he returns to collect his belongings and laments modern beauty standards, herself a black woman having been left for someone white and younger.

Briseis (Jemima Rooper) follows. The daughter of an ally to the Trojans, she was captured by the Greeks and made concubine to the warrior Achilles before the general Agamemnon steals her and causes great division amongst the Greek camp. Decked out in bridal attire, Briseis delivers her own side of the story, the ancient love triangle reimagined as a polyamorous relationship. Throughout her scene, Briseis transforms into a suit-wearing business woman, shedding her traditional role of ‘bride’.

Then, Hermione (Rebekah Murrell), shares her tale of forced marriage to Achilles’ son Neoptolemus while being interrogated about the crimes of her true love Orestes. Finally, we meet Penelope (Gemma Whelan), the wife of Odysseus, who waits ten years for his return following the war’s conclusion. Here, she is an isolated lockdown wife, obsessively worrying about her husband’s whereabouts. It is notable that Helen is not one of the five women featured, though she is neither in Ovid’s work.

Eleni is incredible as a modern Laodamia, her performance utterly captivating. The script (Charlotte Jones) is also strongest here, the interweaving of myth with the modern scenario excellently done. For example, when Laodamia states that she’s “not into that crazy shit” like killing children and sleeping with your siblings like “the other girls around ‘ere.” The commentary on beauty standards during Oenone’s speech is also especially powerful (Lettie Precious), and Ogbomo does an excellent job at passionately delivering this.

All five women have unique sets which spark intrigue yet are instantly recognisable from Penelope the anxious wife to Laodamia the streetwise but fragile young woman. Laodamia’s messy bedroom (Emily Stuart) is particularly effective as we are taken into a personal and intimate space to hear her oration. Briseis’ set (Stuart) allows for the most dynamic scene, Rooper moving around the stage as she changes her outfit.

The War is a fabulous piece of theatre that brings new life to the forgotten women of the Trojan War. Thoroughly modern but still ever faithful to the original text, this instalment of 15 Heroines is a must see.



Reviewed by Flora Doble

Photography by Marc Brenner


15 Heroines – The War

Online via jermynstreettheatre.co.uk until 14th November


Last ten shows reviewed by Flora:
Jekyll & Hyde | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
Minority Report | ★★★½ | The Vaults | February 2020
The Six Wives Of Henry VIII | ★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | February 2020
Julius Caesar | ★★★★ | The Space | March 2020
The Haus Of Kunst | ★★★ | The Vaults | March 2020
Big Girl | ★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | September 2020
Pippin | ★★★★ | The Garden Theatre | September 2020
All By Myself | ★★½ | Online | October 2020
How to Live a Jellicle Life | ★★★★ | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | October 2020
Howerd’s End | ★★★½ | Golden Goose Theatre | October 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Review of The Scar Test -5 Stars

Scar Test Rob O'Kelly

The Scar Test

Soho Theatre

Reviewed – 6th July 2017





“an urgent and important message that everyone should hear”



The Scar Test presented by Untold Arts and directed by Sara Joyce was a fantastically honest production reflecting how refugees are treated from individual female perspectives. Written by Palestinian-Irish playwright Hannah Khalil the production was centred around verbatim interviews with women detained in the Yarlswood Immigration Removal Centre. The play explored the injustices and humiliation faced by refugees and portrayed an important message. The narrative consisted of snapshots of different stories and the frustrations faced by innocent women trapped in the system.

The characters were personable, often incorporating humour to emphasise their relatability. Rebecca Omogbehin’s performance was distressing and powerful. She played a woman who fled her country after suffering unspeakable abuse whilst trying to maintain dignity and pride. She poignantly captured the sense of shame the woman felt by having to reveal her scars and waiting to find out whether the physical and emotional damage would be deemed sufficient evidence to grant her asylum in the UK. Shazia Nicholls displays seamless versatility in her portrayal of a wide array of characters, notably a frustrated and exhausted solicitor desperately trying to assist these struggling women who desperately need help and legal representation.

The set was minimal with the presence of four ceiling mounted CCTV cameras, never allowing the audience to forget that the detainees were always being watched and gave it a prison like feel. The use of costume by Amelia Jane Hankin was also effective, with the whole cast in grey giving a sense of institutionalised uniformity and the lack of individual identity felt by the detainees. All the performers wore hoods that were put up when playing the role of security, the faceless, insensitive representation of the system.

The production was a moving and harrowing insight into the emotional turmoil faced by female refugees. The performances were extremely emotionally charged and at times distressing but it was a sensitive, hard-hitting production that successfully communicated an urgent and important message that everyone should hear.

Reviewed by Olivia Ellison

Photography by Rob O’Kelly


Soho Theatre thespyinthestalls



is at The Soho Theatre until 22nd July



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