Berkoff's Women (4 stars)

Berkoff's Women

A masterclass in feminine rage, lust and lived experience

A trickle of bodily fluids becomes a torrent in Linda Marlowe's superb one woman show, featuring seven monologues extracted from work by veteran playwright and actor Steven Berkoff.

Marlowe, directed with improvisational energy by Josie Lawrence, tastes bon mots like bon bons, and brings a voluptuous physicality to 1981's 'Decadence' like a modern day Marie Lloyd. 'East' from 1975 sees her demanding the total liberation that males enjoy; as she simultaneously chastises men for violence, privilege and entitlement.

But it's her turn as Clytemnestra (from 1990's Agamemnon) which is most affecting, as red silk material becomes both shroud and murder weapon in her clawing hands, avenging her husband for killing their child with a steely eyed glare.

Stains which cannot be scrubbed off are soaked into the threads of this production, like a sexual encounter in a cinema which is closer to home than is comfortable, or a huntswoman cantering to near ecstasy on her horse.

In Berkoff's rapid fire poetic language, the rich and idle of the ruling classes become symbols of an England that serve as a warning from history, entirely apposite in our politically fragmented times. It's beautiful, bawdy and completely inspirational.


Berkoff's Women

Linda Marlowe's debut solo show explores Berkoff's female roles, raising issues of sensuality, revenge, pathos, loneliness and humour.