REVIEW – Sirens


By Danielle Farrow

Sirens – an archetypal female in myth and, oh, how myths still affect modern lives! Sirens – beautiful females of the sea, luring males with their charmed voices, so that any who hears must seek them out, only to be smashed against the rocks and drown.

Sirens – alarms for emergencies, deliberately hideous shrieks designed to be heard. Sirens – cries that signify danger, pay attention, act responsibly, there are lives to be saved.

Six ‘sirens’ lure and alarm with thought, sound and motion in this entertaining and disturbing look at women and how they are perceived, presented and pummelled, by themselves and by others.

How many jokes about women will it take to make us squirm, and will any make us laugh? What do we think goes through a woman’s mind when shopping / offered a drink / walking home / getting ready for a dinner party / looking in on her child / having a sexual fantasy / considering other women? How much of what we think goes through a woman’s mind stems from presentations rather than truth, whatever our gender? How much of what is said on stage is truth?

Against a backdrop of a dark velvet curtain, these performers – in evening garb of different colours and textures, each with her own music stand and light – perform as if delivering a musical score, complete with tuning fork and metronome. There are times when they harmonise beautifully, both in song and speech, and times when they cut across this both for humour and great discomfort – often combining the two. Sometimes they are lit singly, sometimes together, from their own stand lights and from stage lighting. Occasionally their words echo, combine and overlap, and always they provoke, in speech and in physicality, whether in comic sexual mime or rooted sexual horror. There is a section that uses projection, never repeated, yet this still fits with the overall ‘score’, where we move through varied vignettes while still experiencing a consistent whole.

Sirens draws us into a journey involving strong emotions and thoughts. From the very start the ground is never secure – it buckles and erupts, shifts and shimmers, like volcanoes, earthquakes and mirages – but we are definitely in fascinating territory. Presented by Ontroerend Goed, Drum-Plymouth, Vooruit, Richard Jordan, Big in Belgium and Summerhall, this show only lasts about an hour, rather than the billed 1 hour 20 minutes, and its ending comes rather abruptly. There is a sense that something is missing, that further experiences could be explored – perhaps because these are younger women only, or perhaps because we want some resolution, despite the fact that only we ourselves, as society, could provide that. Mostly, though, this feeling comes from finding that the Sirens’ lure is incredibly strong: despite the danger, we want more.

Sirens is an alarm call that both charms and warns – hear it, heed it and respond!

12-24 August (not 18), 20:30 (21:50) @ Summerhall

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