Posts Tagged ‘Jake Fairbrother’

This stage adaptation by poet Simon Armitage takes (Greek) Homer and (Roman) Virgil’s poems, written 600 years apart, as its sources. It reduces the characters to a handful of Greeks, a handful of Trojans and four gods and concentrates on the personal stories of the opposing sides and it works very well indeed.

A seller of nick-nacks who poses as the god Zeus for the tourists at the archaeological site that was once Troy acts as narrator; this is a clever idea which adds much humour to proceedings. The war has been going on for ten years and the frustration of both sides at the stalemate is obvious as we move between encampments. Odysseus sends Achilles friend Patroclus into combat, posing as Achilles, and his death sends Achilles into a rage with his own people and intent on revenge against Troy’s Hector, who killed him, and it’s these two brilliantly staged fights which form the tragic core of the play.

I’m not sure why he cut Achilles death and wrote out Helen’s Greek husband Menelaus altogether, but I’m not sure it detracted. An excellent cast, with Richard Bremmer shining as Zeus and Jake Fairbrother a welcome newcomer (to me), deliver Armitage’s sparkling dialogue well, but it’s a bit unfair on them to give star billing to a model’s stage debut (and she has a song but can’t sing). Nick Bagnall’s staging is fine, very much at home in the Globe, but it’s the play itself that shines. Everything else is subservient to the writing. It’s great storytelling.

The Globe audience is becoming ever more challenging to regular theatregoers and my welcoming of theatrical virgins & novices and visitors was stretched to its limit by the amount of talking, eating and other distractions. I left wishing I’d seen it at the Royal Exchange in Manchester before its transfer.

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