Ajax in Iraq
Knock and Run Theatre, at Tantrum Studio. Ended Sunday.
AMERICAN playwright Ellen McLaughlin looks at the unending brutality of military conflict by putting together elements of the classic Greek tragedy Ajax and stories of the impact of the long-lasting present era conflict in Iraq. And there is certainly very little difference between them. But while this production moved briskly between the things that happened to Ajax in Sophocles’ play and the misfortunes of his 21st century equivalent, a female soldier known as AJ, there was too much sameness to make the timelessness of the events as gripping and moving as they should be. The Greek soldiers, including Ajax, for example, wore the same garb as their American equivalents. And while Lachlan Fairhall, as Ajax, was shirtless for most of the time, with blood dripping from his whole frontal top-half, it would have been more effective if he’d had some Grecian-style element of apparel. As some of the 12 actors play as many as three roles, there does need to be brisk changes between the eras. Many productions have achieved this by things as having actors wear white face masks in the Greek scenes. Still, there were many good features, with Lyndon Buckley’s lighting design changes, the background sound by director James Chapman, and the different movements of the actors – Amy Vee, Olivia Jubb, Belinda Hodgson, Troy Bull, Angela McKeown, Keltan O’Shea, Alexandra Rose, Roger Ly, Milly Lambert, Matt Heys, Marissa Saroca and Fairhall – holding watchers’ attentions.