Beautiful Evil Things, Tobacco Factory, Review

Co-creator and performer Deborah Pugh has shaped a spectacular piece of performance art; all you ever wanted to know about Greek mythology, a who’s who of the Olympian gods telling the sometimes forgotten and confusing stories that surround them. Told from the perspective of Medusa, she of the snake hair and piercing gaze that turned anyone careless enough to meet it to stone, in this incarnation she is an archivist come to set the record straight. From her vantage point as a bodiless head strapped onto the goddess Athena’s shield, she watches the battle of Troy and gives us the lowdown on exactly how it was.

With no props other than a microphone, a wriggling mass of red cabling so serpent like you might think it would crawl away, and a cabin trunk, Deborah Pugh’s fast, furious an energetic portrayal of the Greek cast of tragedy, bloodthirsty murder, war, and retribution leaves you reeling. She dips in and out of character effortlessly : Agamemnon? He wasn’t the best of husbands, broke into Clytemnestra’s home, slayed her husband and child before making her his wife – as Deborah’s aside remarked, one hell of a way to propose!

Wonderfully fierce as Amazonian Queen, Penthesilea, come to aid the Trojans in battle, gentle and disturbed as Cassandra blessed with second sight and the gift of prophecy but cursed to be never listed to; a curse perhaps passed down to all females. And this then is the nub of the context, the battle stories told by a woman (albeit a Gorgon monster) with her intuitive skills and giving a different slant to the selfish bloodthirsty violence and naked ambition of the men called heroes whilst recognising that women have their heroic place in history too.

This is a great piece of theatre it runs for an hour and fifteen minutes which pass in a flash so entertaining and interesting it is; and bouquets to Deborah Pugh for her faultless performance.

Jacquie Vowles

18 – 22 October
Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol, BS3 1TF


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