Sirens at the Soho
At once devastatingly intelligent, funny, challenging and disturbing, Sirens is a thoughtful treatment of feminism that utilises poetry, dramatic monologue and startling choral movements, including an impressive atonal piece that comes at the top of the show.
While the performance takes a hard line on some things (and without this reviewer getting political, nothing disagreeable), it is careful in all the right places not to treat the topic as black and white. After an unsettling section on rape, for example, three of the performers take a spotlight to discuss their sexual fantasies.
The show is important not only in terms of its content but also in its theatrical form. Devised by the cast, Sirens is almost better regarded as a piece of music theatre in its delivery.
It is presented as a piece of chamber music – it is not six actors, but rather a sextet of voices. This was reflected in the costume and stage design; the cast were in beautiful evening dresses throughout, and came to perform from behind six music stands, upon which they mounted their scripts, only there as props. The whole cast were clearly precisely rehearsed, and certainly executed their parts with the precision and timing one would expect from musicians. Indeed, each of the performers was an impressive vocalist. Initially taken as a joke, the design aligned perfectly with the message of the show as it unfolded – the invocation of classical music seemed to dare the audience to take the sirens seriously.
The play was intimate and personal without ever properly breaking the fourth wall. It allowed the audience to become comfortable by falling into a predictable rhythm, or seducing with jokes, before descending into a screaming fit of tension. Nothing felt out of place.
Concluding on the bittersweet note that women always will be “the other”, it aims to incite the audience to try to change that. Full of clever writing, inspiration and honesty, Sirens is not for the faint of heart.
Sirens is at Soho Theatre until 4thJanuary 2015, for further information or to book visit here.