BLUSH OF DOGS
by Roland Reynolds.
Tabard Theatre 2 Bath Road W4 1LW To 25 April 2015.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS 020 8995 6035.
Review: William Russell 8 April.
Well played Greek tragedy.
The House of Atreus was remarkably ill-fated, and the woes of its bloodthirsty, licentious and libidinous members form the basis for a host of famous Greek tragedies. Dramatist and director Roland Reynolds has taken the tale of twin brothers Atreus and Thyestes, who fell out over their rival claims to the throne of Mycenae.
To complicate matters Thyestes seduced Atreus’ wife Aerope, and Atreus in revenge killed Thyestes’ children, serving them to their father as dinner. It is strong meat, you could say.
The cast of three play all the parts, including the chorus of slaves who comment upon the action. The play builds-up momentum in time, but the opening scenes involving the chorus of three hideously masked slaves are pretty confused in terms of exposition.
Clarity is necessary in the very complicated Atreus story – and this is not the most familiar part of the saga. As a result it takes time for it to become clear who the protagonists are and why they are at odds.
As well as playing the slave chorus, the three actors take turns playing Tiresias, the blind prophet who advises Atreus, helped by a striking gas-mask headpiece, so that the difference in height and sex of the three Tiresiases simply becomes something one accepts.
Versatile they certainly are: Ben Alderton a striking, sonorous Atreus, Anna Proctor a moving Aerope, and Mike Corsale, in a rather splendid string vest, a splendidly butch and muscular Thyestes. These twins are not identical as Mr Alderton is twice as tall as Mr Corsale, but that does not stop them taking almost all their clothes off and, after applying much baby oil, having a spectacular wrestling match to prove just who is top dog.
There is also a fairly explicit rape scene in which Mr Corsale displays his bottom and Ms Proctor suffers stoically, as well as one in which he does unspeakable things to her.
As for the play, it is a well-constructed drama, but it needs a little scene-setting work and the climax, when that cannibal feast is served, is possibly signalled a little too soon.
Atreus/Tiresias/Slave: Ben Alderton.
Aerope/Tiresias/Slave: Anna Procter.
Thyestes/Tiresias/Slave: Mike Corsale.
Director: Roland Reynolds.
Designer: Isabella Van Braeckel.
Lighting: Alex Hopkins.