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Read: An Iliad is visceral and mesmerising

Humanity’s war with itself is endless and seeded in ancient times. It is both personal and impersonal having laid waste to millions of lives and done incalculable damage. In An Iliad we see a beautifully intimate version of Homer’s epic poem highlighting the ultimate futility of that war. 

This re-telling is raw and shorn of embellishments. The set is, tellingly, spartan – bits of wood lean against the back wall; a simple wooden table and chair sit to one side; while on the other are a drop cloth, some empty paint cans and their smeared remains staining the floor. The only props are a suitcase, some papers, a crystal decanter, and a bucket of water. The soundscape created by musical prodigy Shayne P Carter is ethereal and edgy.

Into this simple and unfinished world steps Michael Hurst as the Poet. What follows is an intense and passionate reenactment of the titanic struggle between the Greeks and Trojans. This production invokes a form of story telling from ancient times  – a single narrator taking on many roles and drawing the audience in with exquisite execution. An Iliad is a reminder that story-telling is integral to the human experience and all that is needed to capture our attention is a single person with passion and commitment to the narrative. 

I have always admired Michael Hurst as an actor – but this performance was beyond anything I have ever seen him do before.

His performance was huge in scope and range, describing battles and rage-filled killings with excruciatingly vivid intensity that transported me to those battle fields. Then there were tender moments, moments of grief, regret and compassion as he seamlessly transitioned from character to character. 

In an audience of at least 200 people I felt I was alone and he was telling this mesmerising story just to me. He invoked a heartsick man who has witnessed the dark side of humanity but is compelled to keep re-telling the story because we desperately need to understand the self-inflicted damage we cause. 

An Iliad is visceral and compelling theatre that is stripped back to its absolute essence. A damn good epic yarn delivered by a genius story-teller.

AN ILIAD

29 May – 9 June 2019 Click here for more details

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