When I struggle to explain my ‘hard to grasp’ identity, I tend to imagine the person opposite me is an easy to spook five year old with limited awareness of the world. Sirens seems to have had the same idea with their children’s theatre-like vibe: with big personalities, simple goals and the occasional dance number, Sirens does a great job of addressing Ancient Greek patriarchy, Hellenistic museum practices and contemporary identity in an enjoyably political fashion.
Sirens is about the sirens (3 sisters cursed by Zeus to have voices that lure men to their deaths), washing up on the shores of 2018. Finding men haven’t changed their catcalling practises since Homer’s time and that these same men have written them to be coquettish and sexy man-haters for thousands of years, they take on the task of reclaiming their identities.
The integrated British Sign Language is far from tokenistic and is a clever plot-point: in 2018, we have far more ways of communicating to suit our contextual needs. BSL, for example, when one has a friend who is deaf or if one is a Siren incapable of speaking without killing a man.
With nice touches of pop culture to lighten the mood, Sirens is unashamedly queer (though it felt a little underused or forgotten about by the end), feminist, and accessible to those wanting relaxed and subtitled performances as well as (stealthily) being about levels of privilege and how intersecting identities might affect someone’s life. I particularly liked strands of awareness about white female privilege, though felt that again, with more time this might have been explored to a greater conclusion.
Whether you’re a self-admitting Classics nerd or if you conflate mermaids with sirens, Sirens is original, funny and certainly a good introduction to making theatre that is more casually inclusive.