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Publius Horatius, White Bear Theatre

Presented as part of the AXIS Emerging Artists Festival alongside Vesta

Created and directed by Menelaos Karantzas
★★
Pros: A clever set for a black box venue with some lovely direction and staging. 
Cons: Quite slow which made it hard to follow and I was unsure if all the pauses were necessary. 
Our Verdict: A worthy subject to explore, bringing ancient stories into the modern world and contrasting them with much more current geo-political events. Sadly I was left unaware of this until the last five minutes. 
Courtesy of AXIS
I can see what the company was desperately trying to do here and the subject has so much potential. By recognising the familiar political traits and questions that have run throughout human society since the Greeks and Romans this show is exploring the development of political discourse. It is interesting that they based their script on texts by both ancient authors such as Titus Livius and 20th century playwright Bertolt Brecht, weaving into the performance another layer of thought- provoking complexity.
The actors successfully created a series of quite effective vistas which were visually interesting. However the problems came in getting into these panoramas. There were long delays as each actor spoke then positioned themselves, and sadly if this was meant to be the point this didn’t come across and it slightly felt like they couldn’t do both walking and talking. That being said, the set was quite appealing: a clever use of newspapers and binbags to create both the floor and most of the props (including dead bodies).
The point of this piece was to ‘explore the way of talking about individuals and their deeds in a contemporary political context’, but for the first forty minutes it was just a retelling of the story of the Horatian. As far as I could tell no element of modern political characters appeared until the very last few minutes in the form of beautifully designed masks of famous faces such as Thatcher and Stalin. Unfortunately therefore, this show didn’t really achieve its aim, and only got interesting right at the end. A little more development and slightly faster storytelling would make this show far more interesting and watchable.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below! 
 
Publius Horatius runs at the White Bear Theatre until 28th April 2013.
Box Office: 020 7793 9193 or book online at http://www.whitebeartheatre.co.uk

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