Set against the backdrop of the Trojan War, Wrath of Achilles is a gripping retelling of a love triangle, Ancient Greece style. The issues at the heart of the tale emphasise the terrible cost of love and war, making for a performance that’s relevant to a modern audience; enhanced with music, it’s a passionate, haunting piece of theatre.
Achilles faces a choice: to embrace his destiny and be remembered forever, or to live safely in obscurity. Of course the born fighter goes for the former – and despite the efforts of his mother Thetis, who also narrates parts of the story, she knows she’ll be unable to change the course of her beloved son’s life. Tension builds steadily between the Greek hero, his long-term friend and now lover Patroclus, and Briseis – a Trojan woman enslaved by the Greeks, who has pricked the conscience of her captor. Various gods and goddesses also lurk around the stage, hinting at events taking place that are beyond the control of mere mortals.
It’s a well-paced production, with Thetis and Petrocles providing snippets of Achilles’ past, succeeding in raising the himbo of legend into a plausible yet complex person. Coupled with some powerful acting, this builds an engaging narrative, as the characters – each driven by initially well-meaning motives – are clearly set on a collision course.
It being a Greek story, the result isn’t cheery, yet it’s tense and exciting as different power-plays impact on events and the intricate relationship between the trio. Bedivere arts company emphasise more contemporary issues – such as women’s rights and same sex-sex relationships – yet they manage to do it in a way that enhances the original story.
Leave the crowded streets of Edinburgh for an hour and lose yourself in the heroic deeds of Classical Greece. Wrath of Achilles is well-staged, well-written, and has acting that would make Homer proud.