By Aisling Lally
‘From the paths the Greek Gods led, to the noises made in bed…’ Seeds: The Round Shape of all things Red at the Arcola Theatre plants itself in exploring the widely encompassing ‘female experience’. This original piece, based on contemporary women’s true stories, scatters its seeds across time and space. By incorporating myth, twentieth century global politics, and modern-day stories into the piece, an attempt is made to convey a journey of female suffering and solidarity. We are reminded of the complexity of what it means to be a woman today.
The transitions from story to story are slick, visceral and engaging, thanks to the direction of Lora Krasteva. The physicality of the piece should also be commended. Adding to the striking aesthetic were the simple but effective bold colours in the lighting and costume design. There was not a delicate pastel in sight. The ensemble were courageous, bold, and unapologetic. Unafraid to unnerve the audience at times with elongated sensuality, the directness of their speech and songs spoke volumes. The ensemble melodies and chants added a tribal element to the piece, which was very fitting. A particularly moving moment was Kooi Glendinning ‘s monologue, her rawness was refreshing. The ensemble support here added a fresh and touching sense of sisterhood.
Undeniably, this is a very well-informed and slick performance, indicative of a great deal of research intertwined with intimate truths and creativity. It was also refreshing to see such a diverse company alongside the diverse geography of the piece: audiences are invited to hear the voices that are too often left unheard. At times though, I felt that too much emphasis was put on female suffering through history (as opposed to female strength). Although these moments of suffering were poignant as standalone stories, the piece became somewhat one-note and tiresome. Also, a clearer through-line, or perhaps a chronological ordering of stories throughout the piece may have helped develop it into a more attractive shape. Nonetheless, the seeds of a brilliant concept were certainly sowed this evening, and were tackled with imaginative experiment and insight.
Seeds: The Round Shape of all things Red ran from 18-22 February 2019 at the Arcola Theatre, as part of Arcola Participation’s Festival, Creative Disruption 19. For a full line up of what’s on at the Arcola Theatre, see here .