Monday 12 August 2019

Daphne or Hellfire, theatre review

Showing at the Greenhouse recycled pop up theatre, Daphne or Hellfire, the new play from Scottish playwright Isla Cowan is an ecofeminist reimaging of the Daphne and Apollo myth. Daphne is here a present day environmentalist (Caitlin Morris) trying to protect the local Parnassus woodland from development and looking forward to her new job in a forest conservation organisation. Apollo (Henry Roberts) is her boyfriend, unwilling to match her environmental aspirations and constantly urging her to start living in the real world instead of imaging that she can save the earth. Her father, an invisible presence in the play is constantly pressuring her to have children, which she refuses as she sees having children as an intolerable burden on the planet.

As the development pressures on Parnassus mount, so do the tensions between the couple and Daphne falls into depression, which deepens with every tin can that Apollo doesn't recycle, and eventually she dies.

It's a hard hitting, emotional drama, beautifull produced and acted but I felt it totally lacked hope. And in these times of climate chaos and biodiversity loss, we need not only to be shown how the ecological crisis is linked to mental unwellness but given some ideas on how to counteract that.

(Shellshock which is also showing at the Greenhouse Theatre (I reviewed it in this post here) is equally hard hitting but also contains a message of hope, albeit quite a simplistic one.)

Daphne or Hellfire, showing  August 2—26, 17:15—18:15 at Greenhouse Theatre, in the grounds of Dynamic Earth as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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