Underworlds

An angry Arachne, banished by Athena and transformed into a spider, is reclaiming the power for historical and fictional female characters. Acting as a whistle blower, she blows our ingrained view of them apart with her alternative stories in a powerful and inspiring performance. She sits alone weaving her web with skilful words.

The words were formed into a compelling mix of poetry, storytelling and monologue which kept the audience’s attention throughout.

Sam Chittenden’s one woman show argues the case for those female characters often unjustifiably moved to the sidelines. As Arachne weaves, ulterior scenarios are presented to us. Greek myths are turned on their heads, classical literature is given a different perspective and we are forced to consider whether these strong women would really have acted or reacted in the ways that we have been told. Would Cleopatra really have taken her own life for the love of a boy? Wouldn’t Eurydice have had something to say about being sacrificed because of her lover’s mistake? Catherine Earnshaw, Lot’s wife and a black widow add to the stories. Sam Chittenden transformed from one character into another with ease, only aided by a skillful change of voice and shawl.

This first performance was deserving of a larger audience but those who were there were fully immersed in Arachne’s version of events. The words were formed into a compelling mix of poetry, storytelling and monologue which kept the audience’s attention throughout. The writing was strong and the performance likewise. There were a couple of very minor first night snags but these were handled with grace and did not detract from the power of the piece. Well-chosen music, sparingly used, added to the atmospheric feel of the piece.

The Hove Grown Festival’s aim is to be a platform for new local writing and should be supported, as new writing of this quality needs to be heard. If you think historical female characters have got a raw deal then this is absolutely the show for you.

Reviews by Gill Balfour

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The Blurb

One woman show written and performed by Sam Chittenden. In this tapestry of storytelling, poetry, and monologue, Arachne spins tales of darkness, death, and feminine mystique. Subjects including Eurydice, Lot's wife, Cleopatra, and a black widow set the record straight.

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