David Farr’s first triumph as adapter/director of this imaginative multi-media interpretation of Milton’s epic account of the Fall of Man has been to concertina 12 dense books of poetry into two hours of riveting theatre. Not that the poetic flow or the built-in battle between man’s quest for knowledge and his need for divine guidance have in any way been lost. But the bold decision by designer Ti Green to illuminate Milton’s imagery with back-projected film, giant screens, and a vision of Eden as an experimental biosphere akin to the actual Eden Project in Cornwall works splendidly, while the occasions on which cast members draw in the entire audience as fellow representatives of mankind are particularly effective.
Aside from a couple of early references, the narrative ignores Satan’s expulsion from Heaven and concentrates on his mission of revenge through introducing Eve, and hence also Adam, to original sin. All this is wrapped in some stunning aerial choreography from movement director Isabel Rocamora that carries an almost ethereal quality, while Hartley TA Kemp’s lighting brilliantly contrasts the wasteland of Hell with the delicate balance of Eden.
This highly visual approach could have overwhelmed the players but this is not the case here. Christopher Staines and Kananu Kirimi are so natural, innocent and yet curious as Adam and Eve that the only time we find their nakedness embarrassing is just at the moment they do so also. In support, Dave Fisbley cut stunning figures as both Sin and Death.
Theatre Royal Bristol, January 30-February 21
- John Milton
- David Farr
- Bristol Old Vic
- Cast includes
- Stephen Noonan, Christopher Staines, Kananu Kirimi
- Running time