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  • Henry Longstaff

Snakehead - The Hope Theatre

A post-punk reimagining of the classic myth

A woman clutching a microphone is bent forwards. A man playing guitar is in the background
Photography: Steve Gregson


Medusa is here to set the record straight. Lies have been spread and it is her right to tell her own story. The in-house team at The Hope Theatre have engineered the infamous Greek myth into an invigorating demonstration of obsession, feminism and class. Supported by a post-punk soundtrack, the tale embodies its new surroundings neatly, posing timely questions on who wields the power.

Sian Maxwell prowls the narrow, traverse space as M, a riled, unblinking intensity pulsating through her entire performance. She introduces her story, charting how she met a rich successful man whilst living at home, falling in love and following him back to join his life in London. The raw intimacies of their relationship are played out as she is enveloped in a new world of influence and money - but welcome she is not.

Maxwell gives her absolute all, dragging out the emotional beats in a gut-wrenching fashion, particularly as the new world begins to crumble. The music personifies that emotion further though many of the lyrics are lost to the ether the intent remains clear. Not all the music served an obvious purpose, however, sometimes gifting the opposite by sapping at the pace - this show could comfortably be concluded in 60 minutes rather than the current 90. The lyrics, when intelligible, were not useful for pushing the plot forwards and though the overall product is strong and complements the mood, there is scope to rework and reevaluate the role music plays in this production

There is some delightful lighting design from Laurel Marks, who works wonders in transforming the limited space in the Hope Theatre, injecting colour and ecstasy across Maxwell’s face and enabling her to transform as she questions who the monster really is.

Unfortunately, not all of Samuel Rees’s plot lands equally. Some sublime moments and themes use delicate language illuding to the piece’s origins but other moments are less subtle and feel uncomfortably forced. There is a sense of incompleteness to the play, but I sincerely wish to see it developed and refined further as there is wicked potential at its core.

A well-worked interpretation of a well-trodden myth evolved for the modern age.

Running until 24 June - Tickets

Photography: Steve Gregson

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