Andromeda is an extremely cleverly written tale, intertwining astronomy and Greek mythology into a modern lesbian love story. Written by Hannah Greenstreet and directed by Charlotte Vickers, it is an eye-catching and thoughtful production. It asks probing questions about family, feminism, sexuality and the problem of love. Using the ancient myth of Andromeda, it is a love story of two young women who struggle with one’s need to keep their sexuality a secret.
The set design by Verity Johnson continuously makes a stunning impression. Astronomical grid lines are painted over the stage and back-drop, with splatters of paint for constellations. This really sets the tone for the dreamy but perfectly articulated style of the play. Similarly painted wooden boxes are moved around the stage for seats containing all props and costumes, which is resourceful and ideal for the self-contained two-hander. Nicola T Chang’s sound design is also stunning and perfectly executed, timed perfectly to make slick transitions. There is a consistent style of music and sound throughout and locations of clubs and cafés are suggested purely through its use.
I totally believe Nina Singh’s character. Singh is restrained and worried as the closeted Andy and we can imagine the family and life that haunt her every move as she paints a picture of her strict upbringing. Rosie Gray plays her counterpart and the two work excellently together, drawing us in as we watch them flirt, fight and figure it all out. Percy is bursting with confidence, but Gray’s performance does teeter on the side of comedian at times and I’m not quite as convinced of her character.
Very unfortunately, the play is too long by at least twenty minutes, running at nearly one hour and forty-five minutes with no interval. This is one of the only criticisms I have of the play, as the writing is otherwise particularly strong. Andromeda has both zinging comedic lines and moments gently aligning astronomy with coming out — it does both with ease, taking us masterfully on a journey through different times and planes of reality. A highlight is when Andy bursts with frustration at Percy, crying she’s been “shoving your gay agenda down my throat with your glitter, feathers and your books.” The audience bursts out laughing at this moment that so carefully balances the joy and angst of a young person figuring out their sexuality.
There are a few clichéd moments in the script, such as when Andy asks how she can know if she likes girls without ever having kissed one, resulting in Percy suggesting they kiss. Perhaps it is a purely sweet moment, but it has unfortunately become a tired and cringeworthy device that is very often used to appeal to the heterosexual male gaze. Nevertheless, Andromeda has delicate, clever and thoughtful writing and a very talented cast. This is a polished production that I could see thriving on West End stages.
Andromeda played Camden People’s Theatre until Saturday 31 July. For more information, see Camden People’s Theatre.