Beowulf: The Blockbuster
" It's performed in the simplest way imaginable in that it's just one actor/storyteller relating this tale directly to the audience which harks back to telling stories around the campfire. That said it's told with as much inventiveness, craft, humour and physical dexterity as possible so that while it feels very familiar in style, it's execution is something unique enough to keep the audience captivated throughout.
At heart it's a simple story about a father and son who despite seemingly overwhelming odds and insurmountable obstacles in their path must find a way through this night and using the story as a conduit say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.
Throughout the experience the audience are sometimes just like the boy, captivated by some of the story elements, unsure if they can continue, frightened by some of the story turns they have a bad feeling about, frustrated and angry at the moments they don't understand yet and even elated to discover they can have a direct effect on the story itself as it unfolds. The audience are also sometimes like the father : Surprised at the shape, twists and turns that the night is taking, excited by finding potential paths through difficult moments, frightened they've taken a wrong turn or are losing the story strand and delighted when both they and the actor are seemingly united in finding out what happens next as the night continues on.
It's an immensely relatable relationship at the heart of the piece as most of us have had a strong lifelong relationship with a parent, guardian, teacher or mentor. There are also many of us who are parents, aunts, uncles, nephews or have had younger siblings who look up to us. Your allegiance and point of view shifts between both characters throughout and audiences everywhere seem to take these characters to heart in such a way as to care deeply about the outcome of the story which is what seems to give the play its power wherever we've performed it, be it Dublin, New York, Edinburgh, Carlow, Galway, Limerick, Cork and hopefully Dun Laoghaire.
Director David Horan and I are also teachers at The Lir Academy of Dramatic Art in assoc with RADA and it was vital to us that the principles and craft we explore and develop with our students in their acting and physical theatre training were fully utilised throughout the creation, rehearsal and performance of Beowulf. It offered us an opportunity and in truth an obligation to put into practice what we ask of our students. "