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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


Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Noughts and Crosses

Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton & UK Tour

Reviewed – 19th March 2019



“misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance”


The idea of Noughts and Crosses appears a simple one. The tables have turned and the power in the world rests with the black population, not the white. We have the Crosses that epitomises power, wealth and political dominance and then the Noughts, second class citizens who are discriminated against because of their beliefs and are banned from interaction with the Crosses.

The story of Noughts and Crosses follows two teens from opposing sides of society, Sephy (Heather Agyepong), a Cross and Callum (Billy Harris), a Nought. We start by seeing their childhood innocence but that soon shifts onto much darker tones.

Throughout the piece we identify the rest of the cast (Doreene Blackstock, Jack Condon, Daniel Copeland, Lisa Howard, Chris Jack and Kimisha Lewis) jumping between characters. From parents of the two teens to members of rebellious militia groups amongst others. This could be a real strength of the piece but however falls flat with no real clear distinction vocally from the actors to differentiate between the roles which is ultimately confusing for the audience.

In the Noughts and Crosses novel series Malorie Blackman understands who we are as people better than most. The characters she’s created, in Sephy and Callum particularly, have depth but are poorly transitioned onto stage by adapter Sabrina Mahfouz. I do sympathise with Mahfouz however as it is an ambitious effort to translate all the themes from the first two novels, which Noughts and Crosses is based on, into just two hours. Above all I feel there is a clear generation gap in the writing, condescending in its approach to youth issues. The use of phrases such as ‘Flipping Sod’ makes us cringe rather than connect.

The saving grace in this production however comes from the design team, in that of Josh Drualas Pharo (Lighting) Arun Ghosh (Music), Xana (Sound), Adam McCready (Sound Engineer) Ian William Galloway (Video) and Simon Kerry (Design). The arrangement echoes The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night Time, a sparse stage with hidden compartments and doors. The attractive set helps the transitioning of scenes seem effortless.

Overall Noughts and Crosses misfires terribly, covering too many issues without any real cohesion and substance. Rape, physical abuse, teenage pregnancy and radicalisation are all pertinent issues however the end result is chaotic and clumsy; a condescending scattergun of the analysis of youth and love.


Reviewed by Nathan Collins

Photography by Robert Day


Noughts and Crosses

Theatre Royal Brighton until 23rd March

then UK Tour continues


Previously reviewed at this venue:
This is Elvis | ★★★ | July 2018
Salad Days | ★★★ | September 2018
Rocky Horror Show | ★★★★ | December 2018
Benidorm Live! | ★★★★ | February 2019


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