Blodeuwedd Untold (3 stars)

This article is from 2019

Blodeuwedd Untold

Traditional tale finding a contemporary resonance

Blodeuwedd Untold wants to rescue the Welsh legend from its patriarchal constraints: having told the traditional story, with plenty of discursive reflections on her own experiences as a storyteller, Jo Blake begins to chant against the fathers who have imprisoned Blodeuwedd in a story that ends in her punishment for conspiracy to murder and adultery.

Blake's mix of movement and spoken work is emotive and draws out the story's febrile fluidity. Reconsidering Blodeuwedd not as a vicious woman but a victim of the male storytellers opens up a series of reflections on the nature of traditions, the relationship of man to nature, and man to woman, and Christianity to pagan mythology.

While the intention is admirable, Blake's arch tone and lack of solutions - she doesn't critique the myth so much as complain about the monks who wrote it - leaves Blodeuwedd Untold a cold retelling. By weaving elements of autobiography, Blake goes some way to contextualising the process of storytelling, but the radical shift she demands isn't manifested in this production. It is solid and effective as an hour of physical poetry, and sketches out a plan of attack without delivering.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 3.15pm, £9–11 (£8–10).

Blodeuwedd Untold

  • 3 stars

Jo Blake / Pleasance / Royal & Derngate Northampton Unearth the unwritten Blodeuwedd, the Frankenstein of flowers. Captured in the pages of a medieval book, the ancient myth of Blodeuwedd describes a woman made out of flowers who was turned into an owl as punishment for adultery. But who was this woman before being…