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bad eggs: good try

by | Mar 17, 2022 | Review | 0 comments

publicity shot for bad eggs

Sarah Roa in the poster art for bad eggs

Unladylike co., which is producing bad eggs, is a new, young, feminist company. I’m sympathetic on all these fronts — and I can’t recommend this production.

Written by Jessica Hood, bad eggs, which is being presented online, plucks Persephone and Hades from their myth and Eve from hers, then drops them into a shared contemporary story.

Some of the writing is mildly witty. Rather than abducting Persephone and spiriting her off to the underworld, Hades sweeps her up in a three-day courtship and takes her home to his apartment over the funeral parlour where he works. In the original Persephone myth, her mom, Demeter, doesn’t know about the abduction and searches for her daughter relentlessly. In this retelling, Eve is Persephone’s mother and she’s an emotionally chilly fertility doctor.

Some of Hood’s set-up is resonant. Rather than being trapped in a literal underworld/hell, the twenty-first century Perspehone is trapped by agoraphobia: panic attacks make it scary for her to leave the apartment.

And thematically, bad eggs makes sense. The plot turns on Persephone’s attempts to get pregnant. The mythic Persephone is associated with spring and fertility, but this Persephone’s desire to get pregnant is to please Hades — and that seems to be the point: our new Persephone defines herself in terms of the needs of others, Hades’ need for a submissive wife and Eve’s for an obediently ambitious daughter.

All of this is fine, as far as it goes, but it takes forever for Persephone to exhibit any real agency and that’s a big problem.

Warning: I’m going to get into some spoilers here.

Persephone takes a few repetitive steps towards independence — she goes to Eve’s office a couple of times without Hades’ permission — but she’s mostly passive: she slowly —very slowly — accumulates insight through dreams/panic attacks that happen to her.

As we’re waiting for the slim plot to resolve, the writing is often predictable: when Hades says that he’ll text Eve with their address so that she can come over for dinner, we know that’s not going to happen, because Hades is a controlling asshole. And the conventions are forced: Hades erases Eve’s repeated voicemail messages on their landline, but why isn’t Persephone ever in the room when those calls come in? And it seems awfully convenient (for the playwright) that Persephone doesn’t have her own cellphone.

The dialogue is generic: if you took a drink every time Hades calls Persephone “Honeybee”, you’d be hammered within half an hour. And bad eggs goes on for an hour and a half.

Stylistically, the production, which was directed by Pedro Chamale, feels unresolved. It’s shot as a film but on such a barebones theatrical set that it feels visually vacant — except for one very cool element. That’s Emily Pickering’s animation, which often appears as bright squiggly lines on top of the bodies of the actors — so Calvert’s Hades sprouts bright orange horns and a forked tongue, for instance. It’s terrific.

In terms of narrative success, things start to pick up about halfway through when this kind of imagery ramps up and the story gets increasingly creepy.

Throughout, all of the acting is fine — Sarah Roa as Persephone, Raes Calvert as Hades, and especially Lissa Neptuno as Eve.

The actors don’t have a lot to work with, though. Bad eggs doesn’t justify its running time.

Still, we all learn by trying. This project is ambitious and that’s a great place to start.


BAD EGGS By Jessica Hood. Directed by Pedro Chamale. An unladylike co. production online on Tuesday, March 17. Streaming until March 27. Tickets


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