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Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Daphne, or Hellfire

Boxed In Theatre

Genre: Feminist Theatre, New Writing, Theatre, Tragedy

Venue: The Greenhouse @ Dynamic Earth


Low Down

Ambitious, yet effective, environmentalist, ecofeminist retelling of Greco/Roman myth, Daphne and Apollo.



Loosely based on the Greco/Roman myth, Daphne & Apollo where Daphne the nymph is chased by Apollo, and to escape him she transforms into a tree… Here, Daphne, beautifully and sensitively portrayed by Caitlin Morris, is a modern eco-feminist, increasingly tormented by her conscience, driven by visions of climate hellfire and a barren future, is finally impelled to activism, deserting the comfort of her safe, middle-class existence and her eco-clumsy boyfriend, Apollo.

This might sound an unlikely basis for a powerful warning about cataclysmic climate change, but, strangely, it works really well.

Daphne and Apollo are locked in their comfortable lives, yet, slowly diverging as Daphne’s ever imposing eco-awareness starts to impinge on their everyday habits. He doesn’t throw his empty cans in the right receptacle. She reminds him to rinse them first. He buys her commercial flowers ignoring their environmental impact; whilst appreciating the gesture, she rejects the gift as it conflicts with her ethics… a doomed scenario.

As Daphne’s conscience dooms her to irreversible activism and hellfire… Apollo retreats to the womb of his capitalist comforts.

The relationship and its breakdown is well portrayed, particularly by Morris, whose emotional charge is always in the moment and visceral. Daphne’s doom is deeply moving and thought provoking. Henry Roberts as Apollo is very effective as the ever-complacent provocateur. But the real winner is the effect the play has on our conscience. It forces us to confront our own complacency but without preaching. Through the “collateral damage” of Daphne’s demise we can genuinely see the future… where the only brightness on the horizon is from the glow of the forest fires… and it’s not comforting.

It’s a courageous thing to mount such a show with such a message in a tiny self constructed greenhouse in a venue slightly off the beaten track, but it works and it’s definitely worth it. Caitlin Morris’s totally committed performance ensures it.