Review: Age of Rage, Barbican Theatre - mud, blood and flames in this fast-paced, powerful Greek tragedy epic
Ivo Van Hove is back at the Barbican with a bang and another epic, Age of Rage, which spans six Greek tragedies that follow the fall out of the Trojan war.
Well, actually, there is a bit of back story first, setting out the spark that ignited a chain of revenge before Paris lured Helen away from King Menelaus. It involves a son being fed to his father type of incident, something which is illustrated by meat being cooked on a flaming grill on stage as you arrive.
Fire is just the start for this tragedy of vengeance; blood won't so much be spilt as poured, and in the second half of the 3 hours and 45-minute play, the protagonists will be literally as well as figuratively mired in mud.
Combining the stories, Van Hove focuses on the anger and the violence it begets, but it isn't the male rage; it's the female.
Fathers sacrificing children to win wars has consequences beyond grieving mothers. Clytemnestra, Helen, Hecuba, Cassandra and Electra are thrust into the centre of the story. But they aren't merely ornaments and victims of male violence, abuse and ego, they are out for blood, and all have agency over what happens.
Van Hove mixes media to powerful effect. A large screen is used to show family relationships, and then the projected images of the innocent children appear following their slaughter, always dancing freely. A reminder of the vital life cut short or maybe a new found freedom from the violent mess of the world they've left behind.