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Review: Daughters of Eve at Goodwood Theatre and Studios - ADL Fringe

Review by Lisa Lanzi

It is so utterly refreshing to attend a new, original theatre work by a performer you don’t know, and to be won over by their writing, delivery, and presence.

Sarah Kwong is both a tertiary trained teacher and performer, a prolific writer, and fiercely intelligent.  Raised as a Christian, she now has questions… and opinions.  Daughters of Eve explores the role of women as portrayed in the bible and deftly overlays those ancient life stories onto female roles and societal expectations in the now.  Alluding  to passages from the bible Kwong postulates that females therein fall into roughly three categories:  “devoted servant”, “flawed hero”, or “evil temptress”.  Some women are not even named but merely designated wife, mother, or sister.

Opening with a brief acoustic version of ‘Praying’ by American singer/songwriter Kesha, Kwong accompanies herself on guitar - the lyrics are astonishingly relevant - then launches into the story of Sarah and Abraham.  With witty, comic references to her own upbringing the performer really warms to the intimate storytelling style, ingeniously weaving her own rich language with biblical referencing into seamless, rhythmic and poetic sections that are truly affecting.  Stylistically, there is a hint of beat or ‘slam’ poetry rendering but the result here is considerably more nuanced and lyrical.

Subsequently, we are acquainted with complex tales of three biblical women: Tamar, daughter-in-law of Judah; Ruth, great-grandmother of King David; and Bathsheba, Uriah’s then David’s wife.  After each discrete tale, Kwong steers into present-day parables that illustrate the lives of “Tamara, Ruby, and Bethany” and how they are impacted by their relationships to Christianity and the men in their lives.  The detailed narratives flow with Kwong’s command of her poetic prose and an empathic delivery.  There are both comic and shocking moments to contend with and the audience is obviously deeply involved, captivated by Kwong’s heartfelt connection to the telling.  There is no doubt this performer has lived through her own life challenges around the teachings of Christianity but the honesty disarms without being too accusatory.  Her tales, though querying choices and highlighting wrongs, do not seek to denigrate the spiritual beliefs of others.  Rather, we encounter gentle cautions, and an invitation to bear in mind that we can never truly know another’s path - so choose kindness.

The atmosphere created during Daughters of Eve is intimate and suited the small black box venue at the fine Fringe Hub that is Goodwood Theatre and Studios.  Throughout, original songs punctuate the narrative and Kwong accompanies herself on guitar or ukulele.  Some songs are purely tuneful while others have poetic, sardonic interjections.  There are snippets too of Taylor Swift’s ‘You’re Losing Me’, the refrain sung while meaningfully looking up.  Despite some understandable (but needless) nerves at the start, Kwong is a strong singer and her original songs can be heard online.  She is a performer to watch and without doubt has a gift for writing and composing; it will be exciting to see the next projects Kwong brings to fruition.

This is one woman’s journey told through text and both original or covered songs.  The writing is intricate and layered but never obtuse.  The underlying feminist gaze is to be applauded and is mighty, however Kwong does not proselytize.  Respectfully we are left to our own deliberations and decisions, interpretations and ponderings.  There is great depth and compassion here that will leave you with thoughts and impressions long after lights down.  

Image Supplied


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