Tag Archives: Rebekah Murrell

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







Reviewed – 6th June 2019



“a tribute to the true soul of carnival, one that has us honour its significance while we dance in our seats.”


Carnival means many things to many people. Nadine hears the spirits of her ancestors reclaiming the streets they weren’t allowed to call their own. This year, they will guide her as she competes for her chance to be seen. Jade sees a community under threat. Persuaded by her activist friend Nisha, she plans to deliver a speech encouraging people to make their voices heard. But the carnival is not the safe and joyful place it was when they were children. As their big moment edges closer, Nadine and Jade are forced to confront the dark side of home.

Cramming the whole of Notting Hill Carnival into Theatre503 might seem like an impossible task, but Rebekah Murrell’s production manages it with ease. Writer Yasmin Joseph paints an evocative picture of busy streets and sensory overloads, with locals jostling for space among curious outsiders. There are snapshots of the carnival from all sides: belligerent neighbours, nosey journalists, street vendors holding the same spot they have occupied for fifty years. Although the stage itself is relatively plain – adorned with Caribbean flags and minimal set pieces – Joseph’s script fizzes with energy that fills every corner of the space.

There is plenty of social commentary, some overt and some extremely subtle. The girls are fetishised for their race (‘you two look proper tropical,’ says one charmer) and slut-shamed by the men they reject. Carnival goers since childhood, they lament the rising price of old favourites and the influx of rich white hipsters. Nisha prides herself on being politically aware but, next to veteran activists, she seems hopelessly naïve. Scenes will often pause to make way for soca music, or end with a sudden outburst of movement. The integration of real carnival atmosphere shows the value of incorporating seemingly non-theatrical elements into plays; not only does it elevate Joseph’s script, but makes the whole thing all the more enjoyable.

The acting is assured, the dynamic between Sharla Smith (Nadine), Sapphire Joy (Jade), and Annice Bopari (Nisha) is incredibly natural. Smith and Joy slip in and out of characters with ease, playing seventy-year-old street vendors with the same vivacity as they do their central roles. Bopari is endearing as Nisha, prompting laughter at her over-earnestness and sympathy for her isolation.

Of the three, Nisha feels a little underdeveloped, her story a little vague. It would have been great to hear more about her connection to carnival and motivation for her activism in greater depth. But this is only a minor criticism, one that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the performance. J’ouvert is a tribute to the true soul of carnival, one that has us honour its significance while we dance in our seats.


Reviewed by Harriet Corke

Photography by Helen Murray



Theatre503 until 22nd June


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Br’er Cotton | ★★★★★ | March 2018
Reared | ★★★ | April 2018
Isaac Came Home From the Mountain | ★★★★ | May 2018
Caterpillar | ★★★★ | September 2018
The Art of Gaman | ★★★★ | October 2018
Hypocrisy | ★★★½ | November 2018
Cinderella and the Beanstalk | ★★★★ | December 2018
Cuzco | ★★★ | January 2019
Wolfie | ★★★★★ | March 2019
The Amber Trap | ★★★ | April 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com