Pegasus Theatre, Wed March 30th - Sat April 2nd 2011
In the hands of The Pegasus Youth Theatre, this provocative play is rendered one part drama, one part dance and one part song. The adolescent troupe coped exceptionally well with the challenge of creating a unified piece out of three theatrical forms and I was impressed that every performer acted, dance and sang.
The choreography was intricate and the array of songs – ranging from Arabic songs of praise to raps - required demanding vocal dexterity. What’s more, under the guidance of Director Yasmin Sidhwa, the cast of 28 young actors and dancers helped design the set and produce the play, and the youngsters are to be congratulated for their outstanding contribution. Indeed, one of the play’s most inspiring scenes, in which the International War Cabinet were presented as characters from a video game, was an idea conceived entirely by the 13-17 year olds.
The standard of performance was high – every line and dance step had been meticulously learned, vocal harmonies were tight and scene changes swift and seamless. The young man who took the title role is to be applauded for his passionate and commanding portrayal of Gilgamesh. The actresses who took on the parts of the four Goddess sisters also deserve special mention, as does the talented youngster who stole the show as President Eagle.
The young cast did not shy away from difficult emotional themes, such as grief, or the psychological trauma of life in a combat zone, and rendered these big ideas with impressive sensitivity. Tackling an issue as contentious as the politics of the Iraq war would be a bold move for any theatre company, and the cast handled the play’s satirical take on ‘generation kill’ with maturity and understanding.
Displaying a striking theatrical adaptability, the actors performed comic scenes with equal success. The cast brought a youthful freshness to the performance, not only through contemporary references to Rihanna songs and ‘fit men,’ but by way of their boundless energy.
As the story flitted between the officer’s life as an active soldier in Iraq and the old world of Mesopotamia, the stories merged and the plot became difficult to follow in places. Nevertheless, the gutsy teens of The Pegasus Youth Theatre rose to the challenge of Jenny Lewis’s demanding and unusual play to create a provocative production that is by turns funny and heartbreaking, and stunning in its energy and professionalism.