Lucrece's moral dilemma, how to defend her honour after being raped, has fascinated since the days of Ovid and Livy and Shakespeare's epic poem, written around 1593, is a beautiful re-telling. Shakespeare refers to Lucrece in several plays so the story clearly touched him in some meaningful way and was known to his audiences. It is something of a shame that we are less familiar with this story and poem.
Lucrece's husband boasts of his wife's beauty and purity which enflames Tarquin who sneaks back from their camp and vists her. She, being pure (naieve?) , welcomes him as her husband's colleague but after they say goodnight he sneaks to her room and rapes her at sword point under the threat that, if she does not comply he will kill her and a slave, put the slave in her arms and claim he found them having an affair and slew them thus bequeathing to her husband and children the shame of her actions. She complies, he is satisfied then angry with himself and leaves, she writes to her husband amd begs him to come home, which he does, accompanied by her father and others. She tells him what has happened then kills herself - they take her body to "the authorities" and Tarquin is banished (is that all, not very Roman!) ...
Shakespeare's poem has been adapted for this one woman presentation and presented as a mix of storytelling, mime, poem and song - and it works, really works, quite magnificently. Camille O'Sullivan's performance is breathtaking - we knew she could sing but this is a quite extraordinary 80 minutes of theatre. Feargal Murray's accompaniment is crucial to the success, weaving an underlying emotion into the piece, highlighting the drama and supporting the songs - heck, I even came out humming the tunes!
With little more than lighting, a couple of pairs of shoes and a couple of coats to help them this team give us an amazing experience and breathe real life into this poem and the human and tragic people who inhabit the story.