Daphne, or Hellfire
- Liam Rees
- 12 August 2019
This article is from 2019
Earnest eco-feminist reimagining of Greek myth needs work
BoxedIn Theatre's Daphne, or Hellfire updates the Daphne and Apollo myth for an age of climate crisis. Virgin wood nymph Daphne is now a feminist eco-warrior trying to change the capitalist system from the inside while batting away pressures from her boyfriend, Apollo, to stop being such a social justice warrior and just settle down to have some kids. No longer the god of order and reason, this Apollo is a thoroughly mediocre corporate man who insists upon moderation even in the face of extinction.
The production's dramatic tension relies upon simplistic dichotomies: men are rational, women are emotional; men are predisposed to the world of business and women are happier having babies and being at one with nature. It's encouraging to see a play that recognises how capitalism and climate change are gendered issues but the lack of complexity or nuance renders the show's discourse predictable.
Caitlin Morris and Henry Roberts have a natural chemistry as the couple and do a decent job with the earnest script, but they struggle to give the characters depth. When Daphne entreats Mother Nature, the script jarringly transitions into a pale imitation of poetic language that is more reminiscent of melodramatic spoken word. Additionally the script's uneven pacing leads to abrupt shifts in her character's development. Roberts brings some humour to his performance but, having been written as an archetypal 'nice guy', his character remains one dimensional.
There's a solid concept to Daphne, or Hellfire and the company deserve credit for their efforts to be eco-friendly at the Fringe, but the creatives need to bring the same rigour to the dramaturgy as they have to sustainability in the arts.
Pleasance Pop-Up: Dynamic Earth, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 5.15pm, £5.