After the bloody siege of Thebes by Polyneices and his allies, the city stands unconquered. Polyneices and his brother Eteocles, however are both dead killed by each other, according to the curse of Oedipus, their father. Sophocles’ play “Antigone” is the inspiration behind Actors of Dionysus’s production of She Denied Nothing which was put on at Exeter Street Hall as part of 2017s Brighton Fringe.
Writer and director Faye Hughes has brought the story right up to date and it’s set during a bloody war in what seems to be a hospital for soldiers with post-traumatic stress syndrome. This is a promenade performance and before the play began, the audience was encouraged to wander around the hall (more about that later) as the Greek chorus of soldiers and medical staff rotated around the space seemingly in a trance whilst occasionally commenting on the action.
The play begins with various corpses being brought in on a gurney by two nurses in hospital scrubs Alexandra (played by Andrea Newland) and Hestia (Tamsin Shasha). Two of the corpses are those of Polyneices and Eteocles and when orders aren’t obeyed by Hestia, the two women are confronted by Angele (Louisa Lawrenson) and accused of wrongdoing. They’re forced to confront each other and take difficult decisions based on their consciences and take sides which leads to violence against a background of the traumatic war raging around them.
The performances by Andrea Newland and Tamsin Shasha are both excellent as friends soon become enemies. Louisa Lawrence as the officious Angele, conveys menace as she completes the main speaking parts. The six strong Greek chorus all look a little deranged – even the other hospital staff but they add to the atmosphere.
Billed as a “theatrical installation” where the audience are supposed to be the “walking wounded”, I think that’s where the piece lacked a little something. I think the piece would have been improved if the audience were encouraged to move around the action a bit more as this would have made it feel even more immersive. By placing the audience at one end of the hall, the main action took place in front of us and the promenade/immersive aspect was little lost and I felt the production missed a trick there.
Having said that, it was a very well-acted piece that packed a lot into just under 30 minutes and was a welcome addition to the Brighton Fringe.
Review by Alan Fitter
AOD’s ‘She Denied Nothing’ draws inspiration from Sophocles’s masterpiece, Antigone. This provocative theatrical installation, created by Faye Hughes, immerses the audience as ‘walking wounded’ in a military hospital during a brutal civil war. Tensions mount, violence escalates and two women fight their maternal urges, in a battle against each other. Reviews for ‘Helen’ at Brighton Fringe 2016: “So many ravishing moments… astonishing and unforgettable” (Fringe Review). Praise for Faye Hughes: “I am not sure if it is theatre, or perhaps art? All I can be certain of is my desire to see it again” (Karina Joplin).
3rd and 4th June 2017