Brighton Fringe 2010
Homer’s poem of the battle between the Trojans and the Greeks shows the journey of individuals such as Agamemnon, Achilles, Hector and Priam as they each prepare for battle and embark upon individual journeys they’ll never forget.
The intimacy of Upstairs at Three and Ten was the perfect setting for one of the best poems ever written – The Iliad. As the audience walked in, we were confronted by three actors on stage swaying and changing into different positions, building up the anticipation as we sat down. Needless to say, we were not disappointed. What evolved was the most dynamic and exciting piece of physical theatre in the best form to be performed – no set, nothing complicated, just a simple approach to the art of storytelling.
We got lost and entranced as the words swam over us, transporting us into another world. The three actors involved are highly skilled in their craft and really showed their flexibility as they played many characters between them – some even experimenting with the idea of gender switches.
For instance, Charlotte Slater made the brave move of playing the commander Agamemnon with the greatest flare and conviction, that one almost believed she was male. Even the two men Lars Van Riesen and Lloyd Ryan Thomas took on one or two female roles and played them with such relish, that it didn’t come across as comedic in any way. If it had gone wrong and comedy had come through within the piece, then it would have been distracting to say the least.
One thing that struck me in particular about this performance was that the energy was high and didn’t drop at all. In order to carry out an epic poem in a performance setting, energy from the voice must be prominent.
As they chose to combine vocal work and physical theatre, it reminded me of what one of my teachers once said – the right physical actions carry and support the voice. The way the staging was done was very well handled – especially as they used so many different positions to depict the characters.
This you would have thought would be very confusing with such a small cast, but with the deliberate choice of separating narrators from the actual characters in place, it was very easy to follow as a storyline as well as the personal journey of each character. The love that Hector had for his wife Andromache was particularly striking as it shone through each pose and reaction the two actors did. Again, simplicity was the key to making this exciting piece work as well as making the raw emotions clear and concise as we journeyed through love, battle, remorse and anger in the space of an hour.
This is a show that is definitely not to be missed during the festival.Even newcomers to Homer’s work will most certainly enjoy this wonderful interpretation.