If the MTC is a cover band, then the Malthouse must be a DJ.

Griffith’s take is both reverential and refreshingly satirical and even a little bit sexy.

Those posters of up and coming shows, mostly adaptations of the classics looking down on you from behind the foyer bar, do seem almost like trophy heads of dead authors in a hunting club.

Each hanging dead head, of Kafka or whoever, surgically reworked by the dramaturges so as to adhere to the strict Malthouse branding machine.

It doesn’t really matter what ‘Kafka’ will eventually look like on a Malthouse stage just as long as there’s a brass plaque reference in the promotional material citing his marketable name.

This time there’s a one-woman show on offer, Sappho in 9 fragments, written by someone who is not dead, even if the source of the subject matter is.

The writer/performer and academic Jane Montgomery Griffiths has staged this show a number of times and the reasons behind its past successes are obvious.

The script, although framed with an ancient ambience and highly lyrical, it is often punctuated with compelling moments of contemporary humour.

It is largely an investigation into the cult of personality, namely Sappho and how over the centuries countless artists and academics have chosen to interpret her.

Griffith’s take is both reverential and refreshingly satirical and even a little bit sexy.

Imagine that.

Although the programme design smacks of a Marion Antoinette chocolate box, the stage design renders Griffith’s Sappho as Sigourney Weaver in an Alien movie.

But this is Sappho’s main party trick, she conjures up a multitude – nearly all of them contradictory.
Griffith’s job here is to fill in the gaps of the vast historical ephemera that belong to this legendary Greek poetess.

And as Coleridge points out, “anything that comes from the heart goes to straight to the heart.”

So yes indeed, Griffith’s performance is highly recommended even if on occasion there was a gap between Griffith’s academic brain and her actor’s heart.

Maybe there’s a tension in her throat, that special DJ space dramaturges and directors require to prize off an author’s head.