Tag Archives: Rafaella Marcus




Edinburgh Festival Fringe

SAP at Edinburgh Festival Fringe





“Jessica Lazar’s luminous direction allows plenty of room for the performers to transform their bodies, and our imaginations”


Rafaella Marcus’ first full length play, directed by Jessica Lazar, for Atticist, and Ellie Keel productions, is a dazzling debut. The whole thing is performed in seventy minutes, with just two performers, outdoors in a tent at the Summerhall in Edinburgh. All of which just adds satisfying layers to this complex and thought provoking theatrical experience. At its simplest, SAP is a modern retelling of the Apollo and Daphne myth. SAP manages to retain the love and predatory desire of the original, as well as the tragedy. Performers Jessica Clark (as Daphne) and Rebecca Banatvala (playing all the other roles) are riveting as the pursuing, and the pursued.

Greek myths told in a new way is a perennially popular choice for playwrights. What makes Rafaella Marcus’ retelling so intriguing is that SAP confronts human sexuality in non binary forms, and in a very contemporary way. The language of SAP is rich and evocative. Metaphors are used lavishly, which suits the method of presentation — that of an extended monologue told by Daphne, and short scenes with two characters that round out the story when needed. Plants are described as images of transformation, but these are not gentle or passive examples of vegetable life. In the character of Daphne, Marcus explores the idea of metamorphosis as a metaphor for bisexuality as well. In the first of several unexpected plot twists, we discover that Daphne’s lovers are brother and sister. She has a casual fling with the brother, then meets the sister, and the two fall passionately in love. But Daphne’s lover is unsympathetic to the idea of bisexuality, and Daphne gets trapped in the first of several lies as she has to hide who she really is. When she meets her male lover again at a family wedding where both siblings are present, the meeting is catastrophic.

There is so much for a couple of talented performers to work with in SAP. Jessica Clark and Rebecca Banatvala are more than up to the challenge. Banatvala takes on the supporting roles, including those of the rival brother and sister. But the play begins and ends with Clark’s non binary character Daphne. Jessica Lazar’s luminous direction allows plenty of room for the performers to transform their bodies, and our imaginations, using the vivid language of Marcus’ script. Banatvala’s ability to shift character with the twitch of an eyebrow or shrug of a shoulder, is particularly breathtaking to watch. But the energy that drives the whole comes from Clark as Daphne. The production is complete and satisfying, and that includes costumes and set (Rūta Irbīte) and the work of sound designer and composer Tom Foskett-Barnes. Catch this production while you can in Edinburgh—and hope that it gets produced elsewhere, and soon.



Reviewed 4th August 2022

by Dominica Plummer


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Bury the Dead – 4 Stars

Bury the Dead

Bury the Dead

Finborough Theatre

Reviewed – 1st November 2018


“Rafaella Marcus’ direction is precise and ambitious, creating distance and momentum with high energy movement and rapid scene changes”


It has been eighty years since ‘Bury The Dead’, the overnight hit that kick-started American writer Irwin Shaw’s startling career, was last performed in Britain and time has been kind to this remarkable and effective First World War play.

Two unnamed soldiers are burying their recent dead when the impossible happens: the dead soldiers stand up and refuse to be buried. The press get wind of it and the generals, fearing the effect on morale, send in the soldiers’ wives, mothers and sisters to talk them into dying peacefully and laying back down in the earth.

Shaw exploits this simple device to ask vital and ever-relevant questions about how war and those that die for their country are remembered. These dead soldiers fight against the notion that “war is only won when the dead are buried and forgotten”, forcing the world to confront not just the horrors of past wars, but the human sacrifice of present ones. Forgetting is not an option. Shaw avoids memorialising and glorifying, opting instead to show intimate scenes between dead soldier and loved one. The message is to remember but not romanticise. Private Dean’s mother runs screaming from the stage when she sees her sons shell-mutilated face. Confrontation might help ease her suffering. Either way, ‘Bury The Dead’ opens the debate on memorialisation and its responsibility to question as well as record.

Verity Johnson creates a foggy, evocative set using the audience to form the boundaries of a trench filled with dirt and bordered by black crates. Rafaella Marcus’ direction is precise and ambitious, creating distance and momentum with high energy movement and rapid scene changes, building expert montages that seem refreshing after long scenes of dialogue. Sioned Jones is compelling in every scene she is in and offers a beguiling performance that tackles multiple roles with ease and attentiveness. She’s matched by Luke Dale, Liam Harkins and Scott Westwood who seem so at ease in their characters and honest that their scenes together and in isolation are thrilling to watch.

Atmospheric and thought-provoking, this production tackles big themes in a tiny space. War is claustrophobic, trench warfare especially, and this feeling is evoked masterfully throughout, breaking only in the final moments when the dead win the day. Gone but not forgotten; remembered for who they were not what they fought for. War is anything but glorious in this vital, compelling, must-see production.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Scott Rylander


Bury the Dead

Finborough Theatre until 24th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Imaginationship | ★★ | January 2018
Into the Numbers | ★★★★ | January 2018
Booby’s Bay | ★★★★ | February 2018
Cyril’s Success | ★★★ | February 2018
Checkpoint Chana | ★★★★ | March 2018
Returning to Haifa | ★★★★ | March 2018
White Guy on the Bus | ★★★★ | March 2018
Gracie | ★★★★ | April 2018
Masterpieces | ★★ | April 2018
Break of Noon | ★½ | May 2018
The Biograph Girl | ★★★ | May 2018
Finishing the Picture | ★★★★ | June 2018
But it Still Goes on | ★★★★ | July 2018
Homos, or Everyone in America | ★★★★ | August 2018
A Winning Hazard | ★★★★ | September 2018
Square Rounds | ★★★ | September 2018
A Funny Thing Happened … | ★★★★ | October 2018


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