“The Greeks would kill for a bone structure like yours,” Nemesis is told by the wife of one of the victors of Troy. The truth is they very nearly did, as the elegantly dressed Grecian character slowly reveals she’s not from Naples, but the sacked city famed for its wooden horse. This subtle, slick monologue, Gifts of War, from the pen of Fraser Grace is beautifully acted by the stylish Jasmine Hyde.
Fresh from a cocktail party to celebrate victory over the Trojans, Nemesis slowly undresses, in preparation for a luxury bath. As her clothes slip off during the course of the witty and understated monologue we see the marks of fire and torture on her body. She is not all that she appears. The sumptuous set by Richard Matthews is deliberately a world away from the nightmare she begins to describe. This is a perfectly timed and poignant piece of work by director Paul Bourne, and executed with a deft touch by Hyde.
Menagerie Theatre’s second one actor play in this double-header on the fortunes of war is The Retreating World by Naomi Wallace and is directed by Patrick Morris. Ali, played by the likable Kamaal Hussain has returned from the Gulf war to a devastated Iraq.
Everything has to be sold to buy food; even his beloved pigeons and books have to go. This telling story delivered with Hussain’s rich voice and exquisite pronunciation would make a fine TV film.
As a theatrical event, these two plays are perfect examples of how a tight and precise script can take a difficult subject and present it in a new and creative way without lecturing.
By sticking to the basics - no multi-media, no special effects, no reliance on technology – Menagerie deliver simple storytelling at its best. For fans of the one actor show, these are polished examples of the form: You’d have to go a long way to better this production.
- Harry Mottram (reviewed at Bristol Old Vic)