Theseus is Dead

Initially I had high hopes for this young company. As the audience scatter themselves around the auditorium, the tableau with which they are met is visually quite striking. Actors are cleverly positioned to play against an effectively simple set, and this care for aesthetics is a recurring feature in the proceeding fifty minutes. Unfortunately the desire to be visually striking leads to a neglect of text and plot.Theseus is Dead uses a classical text to examine the characters present at the beginning of Racine’s Phédre; Theseus never appears onstage, as the focus remains on the private reaction to matters of public importance. It is quite clear that both cast and director have a solid understanding of the original play, conveyed in the set and the blocking, and each line is delivered in the right tone. It just seems as if the cast have relied too heavily on the direction, as if they’re following orders and, as a result, feel emotionally distant from the play. Scenes of anguish become too dramatic too quickly and the audience grows desensitised to what becomes a routine of heavy breathing for Phédre.Instead the production focuses more on visual gimmicks that can be shoe-horned into the moments often between, but sometimes during, the dialogue. Some of these are truly inspired, such as a light acting as the beam of a lighthouse, which passes over the audience during a description of the waves, but not all are so harmonious. The barrage of theatrical experiments, which include various symbolic tableaux and moments of physical theatre, suggest a lack of faith in the text. The production needs to trust that the audience will not grow tired of the play and it should have been clear that the experimentation ought to be left behind during the rehearsal period. Theseus is Dead is a good production; it just hasn’t been edited yet.

Reviews by Sam Kingston-Jones

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 £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

The Blurb

The psychological thriller found at the heart of Racine's Phedre. Private dilemmas become dangerous and smothering as the chilling tale careers towards a rollercoaster ending. Theseus is walking out, the walls are closing in. www.the-effort.co.uk

Most Popular See More

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Heathers The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

SIX

From £29.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Come From Away

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets