Bringing Aristophanes’ The Knights into the 21st century is a great idea. Just like fashion, there is always a classic text that can take on new relevance in the modern day. And this one definitely still fits the bill in 2015.
Two members of the public lament over austerity and a society where the richer get richer and the poorer get poorer, blaming it all on the dictator ruling the land – a suspiciously Angela Merkel type character. They find an oracle stating the dictator will be taken down by a sausage seller. Once the two find the sausage seller and convince him to take the dictator on, the competition commences to win the affections of the top man, Demos, who has the power to keep one in power or oust her and put the other in. All this, only for the cycle of oppression to begin again so the electorate can put another no-name every-man in power to be corrupted.
The show is full of topical ideas, paving the way for a politically engaged production. However, the show’s ambition is let down in its delivery, which at times, comes across as amateur and under rehearsed. The script, as much potential as it has, is often muddled and one dimensional.
The show is obviously being used as a mouthpiece for dissatisfaction with present day politics using the Greek play on which it is based to demonstrate how little has changed in thousands of years. The mish mash of present day content with Ancient Greek forms and costuming that had no particular source, did not sit comfortably together.
There was an awkward ‘soap box’ at one point, which offered a brief history of Modern British politics. I believe this was intended to reference interjections found in the original script – an interesting idea but no one seemed to get the reference. The offer for the audience to engage with questions on the current Conservative government was completely unclear and fell flat.
The use of a chorus for the musical elements pays a nice tribute to the script’s Greek roots. However, the enthusiastic and committed group did not quite gel in their execution of these important interjections in the play. Difficult to understand as a result, this Greek dramatic tool did not quite make the impact intended.
Yvonne Wickham gives an excellent performance as one of the two public who puts the sausage seller forward to compete with the dictator, a strong and confident portrayal at all times.
An unfortunate outcome for an idea with a lot of potential and an obviously committed and enthusiastic cast. This production needs a good re-think.
Author: Keith Murphy, George Eugeniou and Marco Aponte
Director: George Eugeniou
Producer: Theatro Technis
Booking Until: 6 June 2015
Box Office: 020 7387 6617
Booking link: http://www.theatrotechnis.com/show.php?id=223