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Alexander (Stage Production)

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This performance takes place in Augustine's, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL, Scotland.

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      01.09.2008 19:38
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      Augustine's.

      An intriguing modern take on classical verse play, Margaret Pritchard's two-part interpretation of the life of Alexander the Great makes no concessions in its enthusiastic Shakespearean pomp, foundations in the Ancient Greek theatrical style and abundance of homoeroticism.

      The two distinct plays - 'Macedon's Heir' and 'New Worlds and Nightfall' - are performed on alternating days at St. Augustine's on Edinburgh's George IV Bridge, but the audience is at liberty to enjoy each as a separate entity rather than as two essential parts of a whole. The former chronicles Alexander's upbringing as a prince in Macedon until his father is assassinated, and the second details his legendary achievements as king, recklessly spreading his dominion across two thirds of the known world before his empire just as swiftly collapses.

      For fans of classical theatre, Pritchard's verse should be a real treat, as young actors in skimpy attire bellow to their heart's content. The performers are all perfectly suited to this dramatic style, each being granted substantial monologues at regular intervals, and if there were to be a new Renaissance in performance poetry, this would be a hot contender to lead the way. Of course, it's equally likely that the audience won't be into that sort of thing, perhaps having seen the Hollywood adaptation of Alexander's life and expected something similar, but as far as I could tell, only one old man fell asleep during the performance I attended.

      Rooted in the classical theatre style, no use is made of special effects beyond the use of lighting, and the cast does a fine job of convincing the audience that they are fighting armies of several thousand. A potentially contentious issue, at least in the opinion of the somewhat apologetic press release, is the frequency of men kissing other men, which the playwright informs us was considered a natural pastime in the Olden Days, just in case we didn't know that or were somehow shocked. This concentration on realism and authenticity makes the performance even more appealing, and it's to its credit that this play could just as easily have been written two hundred years ago as today.

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