Directed by Ottawa native, Jessica Ruano (now based out of the UK), Sappho received great critical acclaim during it’s run in London. It’s (in part) the story of the ancient Greek poet, Sappho, and her erasure from history.
Should you see it?
Sappho… In 9 Fragments is perhaps the first show I can recall that I don’t feel equipped to adequately describe. Yes. I can tell you that there’s two narratives at play. One is about a naïve ingénue who falls in love with and becomes the lover of her leading lady. The other a more arching story of the ancient Greek poet Sappho (told by Sappho herself) and her reputation through the ages, eventually becoming a symbol of homosexual love between women, and having a metaphorical connection to the historical (mis)treatment of women in general.
More useful though, is to perhaps talk about Victoria Grove’s Performance (capital-P intended). It’s there that the real power of this piece is. The way she carries herself, the way she moves, the way she speaks. The way she switches characters and story tracks seamlessly with often only subtle changes to those things. Grove is completely mesmerizing to watch as she moves and performs amidst her simple stage of ropes and bed sheets.
But as true as all of those things are, I don’t feel even they can give you a full sense of what you can expect from Sappho… in 9 Fragments. I know I didn’t pick up on every nuance of the text, so am sure would gleam much more from it on a second viewing which would create a new experience (visually, too, with seating set up on three sides) but I didn’t miss anything that took away from my enjoyment of what is perhaps best described as living art.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to know what you think. Did Sappho… in 9 Fragments move you? Did Victoria Grove draw you into her performance or were you left on the outside wondering what all the hype was about? Tell me in the comments below.