15 Heroines – new plays telling the stories of women in classical myth. Jermyn Street Theatre & Digital Theatre + On line from 9 – 14 November 2020. 4 ****. William Russell

This daring venture comprises three groups of plays, five in each group. It was inspired by Ovid’s Heroides, a collection of fictional letters from the women who featured in the Greek myths. Jermyn Street artistic director commissioned the fifteen plays from writers and assembled an impressive cast of actors to perform them. Each group of five lasts 80 minutes and they can be watched in any order. There will be three performances of each group with a limited on line capacity of 250 people with tickets at £20. You can find these on https://www.jermynstreettheatre.co.uk/show/15-heroines/
That link here is not live so you will have to google yourself but I am sure you have in the current state of the theatre world done that before. It is well worth the effort. Once again this tine West End theatre is punching way above its weight.
Some of the women’s stories are familiar, others less so, and some you may never have heard before. It is in the very best sense a voyage of discovery and has tested the skills of the dramatists involved as well as of a fine cast of actors all of whom do rise to the challenge. They were filmed performing on the theatre’s stage and you do get the Jermyn Street experience which is very special.
The texts of the plays are available from Nick Hern Books.
The performances are all good with some standing out, but go make up your own minds. These are women abused in a world of men, sometimes on the sidelines like those affected by the Trojan War – get the lowdown on Helen, the way her daughter by Menelaus whom she abandoned when she fled with Paris has to face up to being forced to marry a man she regards as her rapist, how Penelope – a suburban housewife making a dress pattern and clutching her mobile phone cannot understand why her husband has not called while she is surrounded by watchful male neighbors hoping to pounce and cutting her grass unasked.In Th Labyrinth Ariadne and Phaedra are facing up to a fate they did not desire imposed on them by the behavior of men, above all that of Theseus. In The Desert Deinaria is a WAG abandoned by her fooball hero Hercules, Dido abandoned by Aeneas cannot understand why, and Sappho, the poetess of love, has lost her inspiration.
The settings are now or thereabouts, and these are not remote figures from some classical past recalled only through the words of a bard – a man – and archeological remains. They are women facing present day, as well as eternal, problems. You could sit next to any of them on a bus. They are in every sense plays for today.
They can be watched in any order and arguable over three days.

The Labyrinth
Ariadne by Bryony Lavery – Patsy Ferran.
Phaedra by Timberlake Wertenbaker – Dona Croll.
Phyllis by Samantha Ellis – Olivia Williams.
Medea by Juliet Gilkes Romero – Nadine Armin.
Hypsipyle by Natalie Haynes

Directed by Adjoa Andoh, Tom Littler and Cat Robey.

The War
Laodamia by Charlotte Jones – Sophie Eleni.
Oenoe by Lettie Precious – Ann Pgbomo.
Hermione by Sabrina Mahfouz – Rebekha Murrell.
Briseis by Abi Zakarian – Jemima Rooper.
Penelope by Hannah Khali – Gemma Wheelan.
Directed by Adjoa Andoh, Tom Littler and CatRobey.

The Desert
Deianaria by April de Angelis – Indra Ove.
Dido by Stella Duffy – Rosalind Eleazar.
Canace by Isley Lynn – Eleanor Tomlinson.
Hypermestra by Chinonyermen Odimba – Nicholle Cherrie.
Sappho By Lorna French – Martina Laird.

Directed by Adjola Andoh, Tom Littler & Cat Robey
Costumes and Props – Jessie McKenzie, Emily Stuart, Louie Whitemore.
Lighting – Johanna Town assisted by Simisola Majekodunmi.
Sound and Music – Nicola Chang & Max Pappenheim.
Assistant direction- Gabriella Bird & Khadifa Wong.

The Labyrinth – 7.30pm Tues 10 November. Thu 3pm 12 November. Sat7.30 pm 14 November.
The War – 7.30pm Mon 9 November. 7.30pm Thu 12 Nov. 3pm Sat 14 Nov.
The Desert – 3PM Tues 10 November. 7.30pm Wed 11 November. 7.30 pm Fri 13 November

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