Last night I went to see part one of The Lost Echo, Barry Kosky’s eight-hour stage adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It’s an amazing production- ranging from the simplicity of a lone actor sitting on stage, telling the story of Phaethon, to a Scottish performance poet telling the story of the transformation of Teiresias in a crowded pub, to an all singing, all dancing Las Vegas-style chorus line lamenting the rape of Philomela, with a giant penguin thrown in along the way for good measure. The first Act was a collection of myths based around Diana (Callisto, Endymion, Actaeon), with Diana and her virgin followers portrayed as giggly private school girls and Pan and his followers as loutish college boys. The second was a much darker collection, dealing with greed, lust and violence (Erysichthon, Hermaphroditus, Arachne, Myrrha) culminating in the incredibly powerful story of the rape of Philomela, told in sign language, as her tongue had been torn out to preventing her revealing the crime committed against her.
It’s quite a confronting play, but also surprisingly funny. At times it’s pretty sexually graphic, and the violence and lust of the second half is quite disturbing, but I think it captures a lot of Ovid’s original. Ovid wrote his collection of myths in highly irreverent, sexually charged and exaggeratedly violent poetry, as an exercise in extravagant story-telling, and The Lost Echo reflects that really well.
You can read more here, here and here.