Tate's decision to adapt the Iliad for a youth theatre using 'contemporary' language is a brave one.

Article by VERNON BAXTER | 14 Aug 2006
After the success of last year's The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Live Wire Theatre will be returning to Edinburgh with another ambitious adaptation. Iliad: Fall of Troy, written and directed by Mary Tate, recounts the events of the Trojan War from the abduction of Helen by Paris, (the 'smoking gun' of the Mycenaean era) to the Achaeans' eventual triumph by horseplay.

It is hard to overstate the importance of the Homeric epics to western culture and therefore Tate's decision to adapt the Iliad for a youth theatre using 'contemporary' language is a brave one. For many, Homer is sacred and a misinterpretation of the Iliad is akin to defamation; just ask Troy's director, Wolfgang Petersen. No doubt many reviews will point out that the 'fall of Troy' never occurs in the Iliad but is mentioned in book 4 of the Odyssey and in Virgil's Aeneid, or that the subject of the epic is the wrath of Achilles, not the capture of Helen or even the war itself.

By placing Helen at the centre of the production, however, Tate is able to draw parallels with the present situation in Iraq. Peterson's Troy never truly recognised the relevance of a foreign army involved in a long and bloody imperialist campaign over such scant provocation, it turned ten years of death into two and a half hours of action movie. Reassuringly Iliad: Fall of Troy will deal with Achilles' status as a demigod, an aspect of the tale that Peterson's film ignored, which meant Brad Pitt's death seemed strangely low-key. Shot in the leg by Orlando Bloom: what are you, an Orc?

Regardless of the structure, the show will live or die on the strength of the language. Homer is not just important because it is the oldest piece of Western literature; it is also one of the greatest.

Old St Paul's Church Hall, 4-12 Aug, 20.15, £7.50/£6. Live Wire Theatre.