This cycle of plays took ten years to write, six months to rehearse and is around nine hours in the playing, making it a theatrical event of truly epic proportions.

The only tragedy is that it nearly didn't happen, only eventually being achieved with a wealth of American funding and the collective vision of the Denver Center Theatre Company, Royal Shakespeare Company, writer John Barton and directors Peter Hall and his son, Edward Hall.

But for a piece set so firmly on the Trojan Wars, Tantalus features an international team, with an Anglo-American cast, led by the outstanding actor Greg Hicks, Greek designer Dionysis Fotopoulos, Irish composer Mick Sands, Broadway choreographer Donald McKayle and Japanese lighting designer Sumio Yoshii.

The piece splits into nine individual acts, divided into three plays, The Outbreak of War, The War and The Homecomings, which can be viewed over separate evenings or in one marathon session. And any potential qualms about the length of the piece are eradicated within the first pacy, intriguing and entertaining 50-minute act.

The tale begins with a group of young women on a Greek beach, who pay an elderly storyteller to entertain them with stories of the Gods. They are quickly swept up in the myths of the mortals and immortals, becoming part of the legends themselves as the fables of Helen, Agamemnon, Achilles, Odysseus and Apollo are played out.

Each 50-minute segment is a self-contained story which combines with the others to create a epic about life, as relevant today as it could be then. Writer Barton has strived to use language that is spectacularly accessible, without too much "dumbing down", ensuring captivating theatre for all ages.

Nine principal actors share the multitude of leading roles. All are masked and utilise bodies and voices to the optimum to portray distinctive characters throughout the stories, ranging from the tragically moving to the brutally violent.

Hicks is an acting masterclass as Agamemnon, Priam and Menelaus, showing each character through their experience of love and loss, politics and power. Annalene Jefferies, Ann Mitchell and Robert Petkoff are also outstanding in their variety of tragic, comic and incredible roles.

Tantalus is undoubtedly the theatrical event of the year.

Elizabeth Ferrie