REVIEW: Talking Gods Festival: Persephone (Online)

This powerful retelling of how Persephone ended up in the Underworld is given a modern twist that makes for compelling viewing.

As someone who loves Greek Mythology, to see them reinterpreted for a modern day audience is a really fascinating experience – as captured in Ross McGregor’s compellingly engaging first play of the new digital festival that re-examines five of the myths.

In Persephone, a story of relationships between sisters Hestia and Demeter as well as mother and daughter Demeter and Persephone is used to highlight quite a variety of themes in the space of just over an hour. This includes male dominance (Zeus being particularly protective) which leads to the sisters to join the mortal world and learn of all its precarious attitudes including that towards the environment (which Demeter takes particular offence to the way humans treating the planet). But trouble soon occurs when Persephone catches the attention of someone by the name of Hades.

Written with great directness, Ross McGregor covers a lot of ground in a really concise way, while directing it in an interview style allows the performance of Nicolle Smart (who plays all three of the female characters) to be the primary focus. The lyrical style of the script means that the original spirit of the myth is maintained but by using contemporary words brings it effectively into the 21st century and gives it an extra emotional depth.

Everything about the story is told with great directness – such as when Hestia and Demeter are talking about what could have potentially have happened to Persephone after she goes missing – the comparisons between a mother frantically trying to find her missing child in the modern day to the Greek tale is particularly striking. It highlights how we can still learn something from mythology in a frank way – although I do feel that the incident in which she is convinced to send nude pictures to Apollo is stretching things slightly.

That being said, Nicolle Smart’s performance is engaging and thoughtful throughout. The way in which she captures the calm and nurturing persona of Hestia, the feistiness of Demeter and rebellious spirit of Persephone is wonderfully distinctive and fascinating to watch – it has all been wonderfully filmed in a way that captures the attention of the audience from start to finish.

Overall, this first play in the Talking Gods series is wonderfully fascinating, engaging and direct that it makes you want to explore these myths with new insight. It really sets up the week of plays really nicely.

By Emma Clarendon

Talking Gods Digital Festival will be taking place all of this week, with one play being premiered each night . To find out more visit:

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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