REVIEW: Beowulf, Tron Theatre

This review was written for and published by The Public Review. The original post can be viewed here.

The epic tale of Beowulf usually conjures images of fire breathing dragons, gruesome monsters and spectacular land battles yet in the Tron Theatre’s Changing House Lynne Parker’s production of the influential text has stripped Beowulf to its natural core.

Alone, Seamus Heaney’s translation reads with an elegant fluency; paired with the Tron Theatre Company Beowulf leaps to life in a flourish of literary devices set against a darkened and brooding stage. The distinct voices of three of Scotland’s finest actresses collectively portray the iconic tale of a Danish community under siege by the god-cursed monster, Grendal. From across the sea comes the heroic Geat warrior Beowulf, determined to protect the Danes and the Heorot Hall built by their King, the sole location of refuge and solidarity in the midst of their devastated community.

Shattered stones crunch underfoot in Charlotte Lane’s abstract design of destroyed pillars with fragments suspended in mid-air; frozen in time. Heaney’s language fires the imagination, Parker’s steady staging succeeding where Robert Zemeckis’ 2007 film adaption of the epic poem fails. The simplicity of the staging allows the audience to embrace the story on a personal level whilst remaining true to Heaney’s vision of Beowulf.

As three intriguing ‘Storytellers,’ Helen McAlpine, Lorraine McIntosh and Anita Vettesse breathe life into Heaney’s text with fascinating clarity, their performances entrancing from the poem’s haunting opening scene of Shield’s remote funeral boat against the horizon to the final scene which strays from the poem’s original ending. A memorable and unique theatre event, Beowulf is a beautiful adaptation of Seamus Heaney’s entrancing translation of the oldest surviving epic poem in Anglo-Saxon literature.

4*s

Runs until Saturday 2nd August 2014

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