Wrath of Achilles
Bedivere Arts Company’s Wrath of Achilles tackles Homers’ Iliad with a fresh pair of eyes – exploring it as a queer love story and discussing the effects of gender performativity. This a well-performed, engaging piece of theatre, bringing a fresh approach to the Greek epic.
Three lives are woven together: noble hero Achilles, his loyal right hand man Patroclus and Briseis, an enslaved princess. When Patroclus announces his love for Achilles, he fears this may be jeopardised by Achilles’ dynamic with Briseis. Wrath of Achilles is written by Jack Fairey and directed by Joe Malyan, with an original score from George Jennings.
With inventive staging and impressive costumes in the Greenside venue, Wrath of Achilles delivers its narrative with conviction and precision. Many of us will be familiar with the story of Achilles yet this tends to be portrayed in a manner of machismo with an emphasis on bloodlust, skirting over his relationship with Patroclus. Therefore its undeniably refreshing that Jack Fairey’s take on the Achilles story fully embraces the queer angle that Aeschylus, Aeschines and Plato all discussed in their explorations of The Iliad.
Embracing the sense of freedom and acceptance gay relationships were met with in ancient times, Wrath of Achilles is beautifully performed by leads Michael Ayiotis (Achilles) and Fairey (Patroclus). Narration from Achilles’ Mother, Thetis (Amy Tickner) keeps the narrative moving smoothly, whilst support from Laura Hannawin as Briseis adds further conviction to Wrath of Achilles.
The presence of the Gods is felt in musical interludes from Ares, Aphrodite and Artemis, further crafting the weighty sense of Greek mythology that presides over the production. These may be a little too frequent and lack the same engagement as the main narrative story centred on Achilles, Patroclus and Briseis.
Bedivere Arts have mounted an impressive production. Fairey’s narrative breathes fresh life into the classic epic by embracing its queer tropes, whilst an impressive cast perform their roles with a sense of conviction.