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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Cygnets, at Theatre Work's Explosives Factory - 60 minutes

In Greek mythology, Clytemnestra was the twin sister of the woman said to be the most beautiful in the world, Helen of Troy. Their mother was Leda.

Cygnets is a new take on sibling rivalry – the pain, the pleasure, the subterfuge.

Photos by Matto Lucas

It shows the two girls had different experiences with their mother.

It reveals jealousy and cruelty.

An off-white, emu-size egg – representing identical twins – is a constant throughout the production.

The story is told in a series of vignettes in a most creative way. Knowing and appreciating Greek mythology would certainly aid understanding.

When you enter the Explosives Factory, you are confronted by a distinctly unusual setting.

An exhibition of Greek artefacts, clothing and people looking like statues forms an “L” shape outside the designated theatre space.

The latter is ringed by striking red, plastic vertical blinds, with two video screens high up at either end.

In the centre of the floor is an old-style bathtub on wheels containing what gives the appearance of foam.

Haunting “electronic” music is apparent.

During the eight “chapters” that are played out while different myths are explored, props are brought in and taken out.

A selfie stick often captures a live feed of what’s happening and projected onto the screens.

The sisters play together and argue with one another. They deal with angst and aggravation.

Striking scenes include wedding preparation (early on), being force fed cake and murder.

At one point an egg is broken, with Clytemnestra grieving the loss of her daughter.

In demanding roles, Delta Brooks and Rebekah Carton give strong, physical performances. Each is compelling and evocative as confrontation ensues.

I should add that before this is over Brooks is a right royal mess, in character being stuffed with food and drink, and subjected to a bloody scene.

Brooks and Carton also wrote the piece with Harry Haynes, who directs.

The piece also features Tom Richards and a “chorus” ensemble.

With a keen eye on detail, Cygnets delves into the complexities of relationships between women.

Playing at Theatre Works’ Explosives Factory until 26th August 2023, it is an interpretative, feminist piece that makes one think and feel.


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