Persephone by Ross McGregor. The Brockley Jack Studio, 410 Brockley Road, London SE 4 to 17 September 2022. 4****. William Russell.

As always Ross McGregor and Arrows and Traps surprise. His latest play, Persephone, is a reworking of the ancient legend, the explanation for there being a summer and a winter set in the present with Zeus on trial for all his crimes and Demeter and Hestia coping with Demeter’s teenage daughter Persephone. It lasts some ninety minutes with an interval, could do with some cutting, and needs to sharpen its message a bit but remains challenging and gets splendid performances from the cast.

One feels McGregor is getting a lot of pandemic angst off his chest – the result is a deeply interesting stimulating polemic with Zeus (Jackson Wright) putting up a fight to the bitter end, Demeter (Cornelia Baumann) and Persephone (Daisy Farrington)coming to terms with their lives and Hestia (Beatrice Vincent), the goddess of the hearth and the one nobody knows, carrying on like a genteel spinster making the best of what life throws her way. I could have got it all wrong, but maybe not. Either way it is a night to set you talking afterwards which is what theatre should do.

Baumann, sporting flaming red hair is the eternal mother forever aghast at what her teenage daughter gets up to, while the statuesque Vincent creates a splendidly befuddled maiden aunt who just wants everyone to be happy. As for Persephone, who is mad about Hades and dogs, Farrington is the teenage daughter every mother delights in and dreads. At least she hasn’t slept with Zeus, who is, of course, her father whose crimes seem to be sleeping with everyone he can. The legend is all there as is the contempt and fear the Gods have for the monsters they created – us, who have taken over and sent them into oblivion.

The staging by Odin Corie is very effective – three chairs for the gods and a background showing how summer turns to winter as things go to the bad. The company is – as usual – on top form.

Cornelia Baumann: Demeter.

Daisy Farrington: Persephone.

Beatrice Vincent: Hestia.

Jackson Wright: Zeus.

Director: Ross McGregor.

Lighting Design: Jonathan Simpson.

Sound Design: Alistair Lee.

Set & Costume Design: Odin Corrie.

Movement Director: Matthew Parker.

Production Photograph: Davor

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