By Jack Peat, Editor of The London Economic
A warm Wednesday evening in Chiswick, the beer garden that sits below the quaint Tabard Theatre is full with punters enjoying the first of the warm spring evenings.
Tonight’s show, a Blush of Dogs, is billed as a play about conflicting freedoms and the desire to break repressive cycles, inspired by contemporary life and adapted from Atreus and Thyestes, a Greek the myth about brotherly rivalry and power.
This abridged modernization immediately draws parallels to the work of Baz Luhrmann and contemporaries who adapt Shakespearean work for the big screen. The title, Blush of Dogs, also shouts Shakespearean literature, used to describe the embarrassment of the lower classes in the same way Shakespeare would use Daws to underpin humility: “Good faith, I am no wiser than a daw,” an example, along with the more recognised “For I wear my heart on my sleeve for the daws to peck at” verse, which concludes “I am not what I am”.
The cast, three people in all, play seven different characters using masks to vail their identity. After a series of vicious civil wars a small city looks to rebuild itself. The victorious king has exiled his brother, but becomes tired of the perils of conflict. He decides to make his brother’s three daughters heirs to the throne as a sign of peace and reconciliation, but the blind and aged priest, seer to the king, prophesies unhappy times ahead.
Intense passions flare when jealousy, rivalry and lust capitulate those at the top as lower classes scoff at their self-made demise. The insecure and weary King watches as his wife succumbs to her inhibitions, falling once again for his brother’s arrogance and boisterousness, traits which have long since vanished from the ruler.
Overall the play raises some poignant points. The futility of war, hereditary and power, politics, family values. They are delivered well with an impressive cast, but ultimately with little purpose. The final scene summed up the whole play; powerful, but leaves you scratching your head.