Fringe Online 2021
Written and Directed by Ross McGregor for Arrows & Traps, Talking Gods Company
Producer Chris Tester
Icarus Videography Tom Crooke
Camera Operators Lucy Ioannou and Laurel Marks
Editor Andrew Flynn
Lighting Designer / Stage Manager Laurel Marks
Make-Up and Costume Lucy Ioannou
Additional Videography and Music Videos Lucy Ioannou
Movement Consultant Will Pinchin
Artwork Design SketchaSticki Studio
Technical Consultant Gianluca Zona
Richard Reed, Beatrice Vincent, Christopher Tester, Remy Moynes, Ross McGregor, Cameron Crawford, Emelia East, Saoirse Kelly, Laurel Marks
Performances permanently available. Arrows & Taps are grateful to the Arts Council, and ask for donations
The fifth and last of Talking Gods has moved us on – Zeus on trial, Dionysius in prison, trials are concluding. We’re swerving between two mythic humans drawing threads together which makes sense if one of them is Ariadne.…
Adam Elliott’s Icarus – formally dressed, quietly lit, the most naturalistically in the series as befits humanity – has a singular father. Daedalus is a renowned scientist, explaining the sun; with little time for myth kittys. There’s an Icarus sun probe. But it’s not Icarus who’s died, but Daedalus. A red-lit Elliott spectrally adds, killed by Dionysius driving a car at 54mph. But why was Daedalus where he was? Did he mean to? Humans are judging gods.
Welcome to the finale of writer/director Ross McGregor’s series of five 75-90 minute plays with The Arrows & Traps company, returning here for Icarus one of the longest at 90. The company were about to embark on this series with theatric and many new effects, then third lockdown came.
With Arrows & Traps there’s a filmic quality we’ve seen throughout this series: it walks a satisfyingly theatrical line of film and surprise. Sometimes there’s more theatre, and quite often filmic values push the envelope. It’s exciting, and necessary for such storytelling encountered in all five works.
So after thousands of years the Gods live among us with their own Instagram accounts. Where clutches of gods – and as here, humans – tell their stories. Before they’re forgotten and fade. Gods have no choice, no free will. That’s their distinct fate. Watch them writhe.
Icarus wants reparation, seeing how Dionysius’ morphing has been a stop to by Athena, and he can’t escape. And there’s Ares – Gods don’t apologize – who finally has someone to go home to and stop beating up war-drums. So – as Aphrodite reminds him in a club – does Icarus. His child.
Lucy Ioannou’s Ariadne starts with the Henry V prologue. She’s an actor in lockdown. Parodying Johnson and everything else pertaining to climate disaster whilst watching the trial of the gods.
Ariadne’s grieving. This isn’t the lover-abandoned grief of legend, that traumatises her less. It’s more fundamental and there’s someone to share grief with.
Dionysius has left Ariadne too; politics calls. But who’s her brother? Known as the Minotaur, because he’s closed in. But if her father’s also Daedalus, then this journalist Icarus… she suggests a visit to a dog home.
We’re ramped up as soon as Eurydice arrives. And Demeter more distantly (both Ioannou this time in different lighting). Eurydice has good advice. We can tell you only where you’ve been; where you’re going is so much brighter. You can leave off the self-harm after that.
And surprisingly Icarus needs moral support from Ariadne, as he gets the big interview: with Zeus. Ariadne’s wearing her business pants, since Zeus might well have x-ray eyes. But leaving Zeus to his sentence and a twilight of at least some gods we’d not reckoned on, Ariadne has a resolution for Icarus.
Ariadne’s threads draw all these plays together – including as the actor who invites everything to begin again, puts on a quietly spectacular floor show to lead us out: a hymn to the theatre we can all chorus with, with an epilogue for two.
It’s been slow this time, like Pygmalion, but with an oscillation of half-siblings necessarily more connected. Ioannou draws you in, confiding, unravelling, wearily amused, humane – one of the most beguiling of the series. Elliott’s performance is like the thoughtful lighting playing on him. Never overstated, searching, sometimes funny, but conveying, like Ioannou, vulnerability, loss, and what it takes to smile.
After all the gods and their lack of choice, we come to the final instalment, the human dimension. Where we have one. A heartfelt, satisfying finish.