Achilles @ Summerhall

This powerful adaption coupled with Downie's energy and passion has the potential for greatness

Review by Clare Sinclair | 23 Aug 2018
  • Achilles 2

Ewan Downie stands alone on a sparse stage, announcing that "It has been nine years, and Troy has not yet fallen" as we're plunged into this retelling of the myth of Achilles as told in Homer's Iliad. The tale of violence and retribution is Achilles, the current work of Glasgow-based Company of Wolves.

Downie flits between heralding storytelling to powerful physical theatre while depicting the story of the young soldier, broken by the grief of losing his best friend and love Patroclus at the hands of Hector. 

The energy Downie maintains over the 45 minute long performance is impressive – not a second goes by where he isn't giving his all. Either vocally as he chants and yells, or physically as he writhes on the ground in grief or fights with his many imagined enemies. Yet while his commitment can't be questioned, there are some sections within Achilles that could stand to be trimmed. Grief-stricken chanting – while emotive and moving – goes on for an uncomfortably long time, the audience audibly starting to shift after several minutes of listening to Downie's impassioned wailing. Some of the impact of the fighting sections is minimised by frenetic physicality, detracting from the overall performance, leaving a feeling of detachment from our hero, and from Downie himself. 

That being said, Downie manages to bring life to mythical Achilles, while the empty staging allows the audience to fill in the gaps and see the plains of Troy within their own minds. This powerful adaption coupled with Downie's energy and passion has the potential for greatness.


Achilles, Summerhall, 3-26 Aug (not 6, 13, 20), £10-£8

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