Vault Festival: Heroine

Where

Crypt at The Vaults, Leake Street Tunnels, Waterloo.

When

4-8 Mar, 8.40pm. Duration 55 min.

Who

Written by Lizzie Milton, directed by Asia Osborne. Produced by Snatchback and Joyous Gard. Performed by Beth Eyre, Kudzanayi Chiwawa, and Henri Merriam.

The company of Heroine. Imsge by Ali Wright
The company of Heroine. Imsge by Ali Wright

What

“What makes a strong woman? Mother, maid and crone are trying to find the answer. They knew this once … maybe the stories we once told each other will hold the key …”

How

Taking stories from across the world, Heroine reclaims the art of storytelling for the female voice, bringing strong women and badass warriors back to the fore.

Many stories are familiar in their scope: the wicked giant, the murderous bridegroom, the shape shifter, the jailer of love, the natural gods, and more.

Secrets, shamens, and tales of once upon a time are conjured up by these three spirits who “speak as one” and writhe, blood spattered and moving with the grace of the animals they often evoke (a hyena, a seal).

Beth Eyre in Heroine. Image by Ali Wright.
Beth Eyre in Heroine. Image by Ali Wright.

The three actors have clearly delineated personalities: Beth Eyre’s mother is sleek like a panther and cunning as a snake; Kudzanayi Chiwawa’s maid is strong as an ox and brave as a lioness: and Henti Merrism is cunning as a fox and resourceful as a squirrel.

They bond together in tales of forced marriages, magical transformations and places where kings are ten-a-penny and characters keep their secrets. A constant refrain is “they’ve been dead a long time, so they aren’t telling us anything”.

Storytelling has always been the preserve of the woman, passing down through generations. Milton’s words give life to old legends, assisted by Hazel Owen’s costumes and Odinn Orn Hilmarsson’s music and set design.

Henri Merriam and Beth Eyre in Heroine. Image by Ali Wright.
Henri Merriam and Beth Eyre in Heroine. Image by Ali Wright.

Rajiv Pattani’s lighting illuminates the stories as they are told, highlighting the women as they speak alone and together, as they act out their parade of heroines.

There’s humour in these tales, as well as empowerment, both teased out expertly through Osborne’s direction, which focuses on movement, tone, and expression as the three restore the balance which has favoured men too long.

Judgement: Wow, Meow, or Furred Brow?

It’s a Wow for Heroine, which is a funny selection and subversion of traditional folk tales, winningly performed. The characters of Mother, Maid and Crone radiate power and charm and chill the audience.

LouReviews received a complimentary ticket to see Heroine.

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