Having been assigned this review and receiving the synopsis my curiosity was further piqued with a seemingly bizarre plot “Staged in a pool of treacle“. This bold and messy retelling of Sophocles’ Philoctetes is adapted and directed by Jeff James (One for the Road/Victoria Station, Young Vic) and designed by Alex Lowde (Body of an American, Gate Theatre).
The Yard Theatre has been built using recycled and reclaimed materials. This converted warehouse creates a warm and welcoming intimate setting.
However, you can imagine what my first impression was when I walked into this hidden away little theatre space, to be greeted by the front row being issued plastic coverings for your legs! What exactly had I let myself in for?
What followed was just shy of 90 minutes of very different but entertaining alternative and contemporary theatre.
The story tells of Neoptolemus who has been sent to an island with a mission to trick injured castaway Philoctetes to return to war, thereby gaining the magical golden bow which had been entrusted to him by Hercules. It is believed with this bow they will secure victory in the Trojan War.
The atmosphere created by the actors thoroughly engaged the audience for this sold-out performance.
True to the heritage of a Greek Tragedy it questions your thoughts, beliefs and challenges what is right from wrong.
The character shadows projected onto the whitewashed back wall by the lights being switched on and moved by the cast were mesmerising, creating tall imposing God-like warrior figures.
Odysseus (Rosie Thomson) is a commanding and fearsome character. Neoptolemus (Joshua Miles) was both funny and amusing. Philoctetes (Daniel Millar) was totally believable with his snake-bitten eroding, stench-filled rotting foot.
The director and writer Jeff James is ingenious in both roles and I really do applaud him for his passion and desire to create something unique without losing its identity.
Fear not, the treacle does not seem to come too far towards the audience but if you want to be clear from the nagging thought and free to enjoy, then sit yourself higher in the auditorium, as there would appear to be a good view from everywhere and the actors projection and the overall sound is great!
It is true to say, this is so quirky that it would not be to everyone’s taste but with that said if you are searching for something truly different then give this a chance. Judging by my response and the audience tonight you will not come unstuck!
All in all I was thoroughly entertained and thankfully the messy task of resetting the stage for tomorrow’s performance was already underway as we left.
Review by Caroline Hanks-Farmer
Jessica Campbell and DEM Productions present STINK FOOT, an adaptation of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, adapted and directed by Jeff James
“I know you’re not the kind of boy who likes to lie. But it’s always nice to win.” Neo has been sent to an island, miles away from the Trojan War. To get back to the action he has to trick a savage castaway into joining the fight. Neo doesn’t like lying, but is under pressure from Odysseus, who dumped the castaway on the island ten years earlier. If Neo wants to grow up, then he has to get his hands dirty. Staged in a pool of treacle, it is the maddest Greek tragedy you’ll ever see.
Cast: Joshua Miles – Neo, Daniel Millar – Philoctetes, Rosie Thomson – Odysseus
Creatives: Director – Jeff James, Designer – Alex Lowde, Lighting Designer – Hansjorg Schmidt, Sound Designer – Jon McLeod, Design Assistant – Maja Dobling, Stage Manager – Maeve Bolger, Assistant Director – Jasmine, Woodcock-Stewart, Producer – Jessica Campbell, Executive Producer for D.E.M. Productions – Ramin Sabi.
Performances: Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm
18th November – 13th December 2014
The Yard Theatre
Unit 2A, Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick, E9 5EN