THE TROJAN WAR & PEACE
by Phil Wilmott adapted from Aeschylus
The Scoop Queen’s Walk More London SE1 2DB To 5 August 2012.
Wed-Sun 6.30pm (The Trojan Horse); 8pm Agamemnon; 9.30pm (Orestes).
Each play: 1hr. No interval (30 min space between each part).
TICKETS: None. Free entry.
A lively time was had by all, except those killed off – until rain began in earnest.
Though London’s authorities might not have realised it a decade go, passing theatre director Phil Wilmott immediately recognised that the tiered basin horizontally complementing the toppling poached egg of City Hall makes a theatrical amphitheatre. Since then he’s organised annual, free open-air summer shows. This is drop-in theatre, restricted only by capacity, which really does depend on entertaining to hold audiences.
That means a popular style, this year devoted olympically to a three-deck look at one of drama’s earliest stories, a revenge-strewn Greek tale showing things are far from fair when love and war combine.
The Scoop’s surrounded by London history, from the medieval Tower across the river, through the fake-medieval Tower Bridge (currently adorned with Olympic rings) spanning the Thames, to modern developments topped-off by the Shard. It’s not a bad setting for a drama whose themes hurtle across aeons, linking jealousy, rage and revenge.
Wilmott reverses the order of their coming. Whereas the Greeks sat, similarly on stone steps, through three tragedies before being rewarded with laughter, here the comic horse-play comes first, as an introduction to the story from Greek tragedian Aeschylus, which follows.
Preening Greeks, love-potions (like many drugs, they bring long-term disappointment when their effect wears off), songs and underlying seriousness, as the gods’ pet bird flies around or alights on shoulders, join the fun of audience members helping volunteer the massive fleet against Troy, while an Amazonian royal found in the audience arm-wrestles a Greek hero to defeat within seconds.
But the link to the rest of the evening’s tragic turn comes in Ruth Pickett’s Cassandra, the most touching character in the story. Never responsible for the Greeks’ misbehaviour, she’s trafficked, her voice silenced by the divine curse that her accurate prophecies will never be believed.
After the murders proceed in the second instalment, events were ready for the final revenge and resolution, when the British summer took its revenge and rained the outcome off.
A pity; this can never be a setting for the subtlest production, but it’s lively, intelligible and intelligent for newcomers and old hands at the story, and lustily acted.
Agamemnon/Apollo: Stephen Billington.
Clytemnestra: Natalie Campbell.
Menelaus/Herald: John Last.
Helen/Electra: Latoya Lees.
Cassandra/Athene: Ruth Pickett.
Paris/Soldier/Fury: Jordan Lee.
Sinon/Soldier/Fury: Nicholas Corre.
OdysseusOrestes/Soldier: Robert Welling.
Aegisthus: Phil Willmott.
Old Soldier: James Horne.
Royal Nurse: Maggie Daniels.
Director: Phil Wilmott.
Designer/Costume: Charlie Cridlan.
Lighting: Jason Meininger.
Sound: Theo Holloway.
Omposers: Alastair Craft, Theo Holloway.
Musical Director: Alastair Craft.
Choreographer/Associate director: Ally Holmes.
Puppets: Billie Achilleos.
Trohan Horse designer: Katie Boyce.
Assistant director: Eyal Israel.