Review - Songs of the Silenced
An open mic night for notable Greek women of mythos may not be the most conventional night of entertainment, but that is exactly what Musketeer Production delivered. The audience is treated to nine songs from the women you'll recognise from classical stories. Each one takes their chance to put forward their version of the story, with fun twists from the original myths which, as the title of the show alludes to, often portrayed the women of the stories without agency or voice.
Sat somewhere between SIX, a Greek play, and a student scratch night, the overall tone of the show was murky. I was surprised to find myself longing for SIX's, although minimal, plot which this lacked. The format of the production made the tone of the show lose its footing, swinging from comic songs to more serious ones with no gaps in between. Despite this, the songs were well-written musically and clever in how they took the source material and adapted it. Using myths that many will know allows for the show to get away with skimming over the details of the stories and spend time creating insightful twists without too much exposition. They found a great balance between audience with and without classical interest. The standout performance was Bethan Draycott's portrayal of Cassandra and was the moment of the show where I started buying into the premise of the show. Alex Rawnsley‘s host character felt like an odd parody of the MC from Cabaret, all the while somehow being more odd and creating unease in the audience. This unsettling guide through the night gave the show its structure and the comedic moment of him stepping in for the part of Clytemnestra. This was a great payoff for those paying attention to the programme pre-show and the ironic note of a cast change.
The highlight of the show's design has to be Catherine Allport's costumes. Especially given the minimal context we get, the costumes breathe life into the versions of the characters we meet. Each purposeful choice adds to the character and blends classical theatre influence with a more modern club-signer aesthetic, which worked well to distinguish characters. Alfie Carter and Ellie Moriuchi's set consisted of a backdrop of dark red and black fabric and a table dressed somewhere between a séance and a dressing room. While this only served as a backdrop it helped separate us from the theatre space and take us to the dark cosy bar that these women of mythos were being summoned to. Very few props were used either but a stand out was the sword that Elektra had, a comic prop to set up the 'missing' Clytemnestra and provided one of the larger laughs of the evening.
The Burton Taylor Studio is notoriously hard for live sound. With a single piano and two microphones the mix was relatively simple, but the quality did reduce it to a karaoke bar feeling at times. These difficulties were tackled well and sound was mixed consistently through all the various voices involved. Alex Kahn & Asha Salway Kiggins's lighting within the show varied drastically from one song to the next. Some had wonderfully dramatic fades and lighting angle choices that drew the audience in, while others had mistimed snap cues that felt jarring. The freedom of a open mic night style allowed the lighting to cater individual performances with varying levels of impact for each, working especially well for Circie’s 'Little Pig' sung by Leah O'Grady.
I found this show's concept and its creative direction exciting. With this base, further development could yield a show that is amazing. Being the first show back in the BT Studio post-pandemic it is great to see a return to this venue and I hope has been a fruitful way of testing out the shows legs. I would love to see this production as the kick-off point for something great to come from the writers, Sav Sood and Alex Rawnsley.
Written by - H. Dovell