Behind a curtained Tooting Bec shop front, barely separated from traffic and curious passers-by, an ancient drama unfolds. Here She Comes is a new, one woman version of The Bacchae. Euripides’ spiral of social derangement, culminating in the murder of a son by his mother, is familiar but constantly revisited. The protagonist, Agave, is also the victim, under the influence of the god Dionysus. By Jove’s intense, imaginative new production tells the story from Agave’s point of view.
SJ Brady writes and performs a modern epic, based on fundamental horrors teased out nearly 2,500 years ago. Her poem begins with Agave in a beach holiday exile, trying to forget, struggling to stay off the gin. She can’t avoid the flashbacks, which always lead back to the terrible, ecstatic moment when she tore her son Pentheus to pieces in the mountains above Thebes. Brady’s writing is rhythmic and full of variation, switching voices and eras to impressive effect. She performs like an Ancient Greek Kate Tempest. Lines such as “No more clutching her car keys, in case of attack” effortless slip between the 21st century the 5th century BC. Brady’s performance is carefully constructed and highly compelling. The audience sits on cushions and chair on a bare earth set, while she prowls the space ritually pouring wine on soil. Vivienne Youel’s live, electric guitar provides an eerie soundtrack.
This is the second in By Jove’s season of three plays, reconstructing classic drama from the perspective of the women at their heart. Margaret of Anjou, filleted from Shakespeare’s Henry VI plays, sounded impressively ambitious and, on the evidence of Here She comes, their forthcoming Medea will be essential viewing. This talented, young company is providing the kind of quality fringe theatre usually absent from South London’s SW postcodes.