Wrath of Achilles, Greenside at Infirmary Street, Edinburgh * * * *
So goes writer Jack Fairey’s semi-adaptation of Homer's Iliad by Bedivere Arts which manages to maintain an air of the classically dramatic, while offering a carefully calibrated update in light of contemporary cultural concerns. While Achilles' army lays siege to the city of Troy, a relationship triangle develops in his camp; not so much a love one, but certainly a matter of long-unrequited lust between Achilles and his male best friend and advisor Patroclus, with the enslaved Trojan woman Briseis, whom Achilles takes on-board as a confidante and conscience, creating a point of friction between the two men.
In the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, there is a denouncement of the aggressive hetero machismo with which contemporary warfare is viewed, yet in the treatment of Briseis - handed over by Patroclus to be brutalised by Agamemnon and his men as a chattel of conquest - there is a dismal reminder of the fate of women in war zones. Under Joe Malyan’s directorship, the ensemble performances are of a high quality and the staging looks good; particularly Anne Thomson’s costume designs, which blend punkish denim with classical styles. The production might be small scale, but the emotional breadth of the piece is suitably epic.
Until 24 August