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
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.
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
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.