Female rage combines with metal in this new gig theatre piece, written and directed by Samuel Rees.

Credit: Steve Gregson

The Hope Theatre provides an intimate space, perfect for gig theatre. Mirrors line the floor, adding a nice themed-addition to the otherwise undecorated space. But it doesn’t need much extravagance; the lighting (Laurel Marks) is brilliant and fills in all the gaps to turn this story-concert into a proper performance, sometimes casting M’s (Sian Maxwell) face in shadow and sometimes highlighting it perfectly, showing her rawness.

The moment Marks came into the room with slicked-back hair, clenched fists, and dressed in all black, I knew M wasn’t someone to cross. I was, quite frankly, scared of her. Keeping a subtle rage throughout the show, Marks’ performance is phenomenal. I knew she was angry, and I was excited to know not just how she came to be so enraged, but what she was going to do about it.

Credit: Steve Gregson

Unfortunately, the show focuses more on the origin story of her anger – a doomed-from-the-start relationship. Her first spoken words are “This isn’t a love story,” which was a very disappointing cliche opener to what I was hoping would be a refreshing retelling of the (in)famous legend. Instead of focusing on the man, I wish there would have been more on how she overcomes judgment in the media, how her despair and other blatant lies about women morph into rage, and what she does with that rage. There was a missed opportunity in reinventing Medusa, breathing her into life, fighting for and avenging women mistreated by men, victims of the patriarchy.

An aspect I did really enjoy is the use of second-person. It makes M’s words powerful and personal. Additionally, the music (Max Welton), all original and mostly metal with a mix of pop, is incredible and the star of the show. I did find a couple of songs jarring, however. The use of auto tune at the end comes out of nowhere and makes what is supposed to be a very serious, redemptive moment almost humorous. Also, while very pleasant, the acoustic guitar at the very end is out of sync with the genre of the rest of the show.

Credit: Steve Gregson

The music, lyrics, and performance are solid and the best aspects of Snakehead. To make it a truly amazing and thought-provoking show, linking it more clearly to Medusa and focusing more on M and female rage is needed.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Snakehead is on at the Hope Theatre until the 24th of June – tickets and info here!

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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