In this feminist retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s
Ayrton’s unique approach to asking what it is to be a mother and what it is to be a woman, is as inventive as it is emotive.
This spoken world is the product of an incredible imagination. Lucy Ayrton creates vivid image after vivid image, from the mer-world hashed out of human relics to the gruesome process of May’s transformation. More impressive still is the way in which the storyteller weaves her beautiful tableaux into a compelling story. May’s desire to be a mother and to sacrifice everything for a child is so tenderly realised by Ayrton that the audience hangs onto every twist of her narrative, desperately desiring safety and success for the protagonist.
Whilst the story Ayrton tells is captivating and intelligent, it occasionally lacks in the telling. The performer, when presenting dialogue, will always move to the position of the character speaking, which feels rather divisive and unnecessary, and can disrupt the flow of the poetry. Furthermore, the poetry itself is not as strong as the narrative it is used to tell, and whilst Ayrton does employ some really stunning conceits, overall it feels as though more relish could be taken in her use of language.
Nevertheless, issues with the performance do not prevent this piece from being utterly heart-rending. Ayrton’s unique approach to asking what it is to be a mother and what it is to be a woman, is as inventive as it is emotive.