Theatre Review - Sirens

BELGIAN company Ontroerend Goed’s imaginative take on what it means to be a feminist in the 21st century offers a perfect antidote to the traditional festive fare.

In classical mythology, sirens were sea nymphs who lured sailors to their death by their singing. Here, six beautiful young women in evening dress take to the stage and stand behind musical stands as if they are about to deliver a classical recital. But instead of song they omit cries and whispers, half-spoken words and weird guttural sounds.

As they strike various sexual poses and start miming a hand job that comes to climax, pornographic images are projected onto the curtain behind them. The six performers juxtapose the price of face creams and lipsticks with their personal experiences of misogyny – my one caveat is that they are white and European and the production may have benefited from other voices. The veil, seen by some as the ultimate symbol of women’s repression, is only mentioned in passing.

One intones impassively a list of tasteless jokes about women that in its length alone is shocking. They also illustrate how women can be just as culpable when they deride each other for their success or beauty – Victoria Beckham and Mother Theresa appear on the same celebrity hit list as “skanks”.

Sirens may make uncomfortable viewing, particularly for the men in the audience, but this is bold, vital theatre that pushes boundaries and challenges sexism in all its forms.

Running at Soho Theatre 

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