Helen

Although you may well have some early misgivings, Helen is a show to persevere with. Re-imagining the myth of Helen of Troy as an ageing beauty during the fall of her dictator husband's regime, it could depict any modern day insurgency although inevitably it draws parallels with Syria. Staged on a raised trapezoid bed and aerial rig, draped seductively in gauzy silks, this physical theatre offering looks good from every angle and there is something very appealing about positioning it in place of the altar of St Andrew's church.

This show develops into a stunning and hugely moving piece of theatre certainly worth watching.

Our introduction to Helen (Tamsin Shasha) and her wordless companion is initially confusing, but later becomes more understandable. Helen is first shown in a surgical mask and pajamas, imprisoned by her cage like bed, whilst being guarded by a soldier-like figure (Tyler Fayose). This male character is intriguing as he is both subservient to and dominated by Helen. Flicking through TV channels, Helen launches into a somewhat forced frenzy of sexualised mania instigated by hearing Cyndi Lauper's Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. The whole sequence resembled a hellish night on the tiles for a middle aged female divorcée and bears no resemblance to the later, more subtle and powerfully touching, performances of both Shasha and her guard. Although trying to portray her dependency on, and nostalgia for, her diminishing sex appeal, the scene falls flat.

Perhaps this would have been a less blunt representation in there had been more distance between the stage and audience. However close up, the intimate nature of the space exposed it uncomfortably at the beginning. Helen's character pulls together shortly afterwards eliciting some sympathy from the audience during a heartbreakingly desperate scene of her frantically trying on outfits in time for her husband's arrival and looking for approval from Fayose. As we progress through the fall of the regime, Helen seems to gain increasing lucidity and composure and I much preferred watching her in this guise. One mystery that remained was there seemed to be no clear explanation for her transformation from medicated hysteria to manipulative queen.

The great beauty of this performance is the aerial aspect. Both Shasha and Fayose are superb aerialists and the choreography of Jami Reed Quarrell both delicate and sensual: suggesting at times the dependency between the two characters and the helplessness of Helen. Matt Eaton’s sound design was masterful and the growing theatre of civil unrest by approaching helicopters across the ceiling of St Andrew’s mesmerising.

The physical performances were a triumph and showcased not only the skill of the performers but also the vision of the writers. This show develops into a stunning and hugely moving piece of theatre certainly worth watching.

Reviews by Julia French

Rialto Theatre

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

★★★
Sweet Werks 1

Antigone Alone

★★★★★
Latest Music Bar

Quiz Night: The Musical

★★★
Sweet Dukebox

The O.S. Map Fan Club

★★
The Warren: The Hat

Persuasion

★★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

An ageing icon’s gilded life is overturned when her dictator husband is killed in a coup. A powerful, contemporary take on the myth of Helen of Troy, with a strong physical/aerial dimension. “A passionate and intense piece of physical theatre... thought-provoking, and powerful” (British Theatre Guide) www.actorsofdionysus.com

Most Popular See More

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Back to the Future - The Musical

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets