"Tales of gods and men"
by Rebecca Wall for remotegoat on 13/09/16

The British Museum's ancient monuments to kings long gone, for all their beauty and fascinating power, can seem utterly alien, so distant in time and space as to have been created by another species. Occasionally, however, the humble remnants of daily life, a child's toy, a preserved leather shoe, close the circle between past and present, and remind us that for all the differences between our ancestors and ourselves, human nature, and our fundamental concerns in life, remain unchanged.

The beauty of this production by the Crick Crack Club lay in its ability to evoke something of the strangeness of the culture that created it, almost four thousand years distant from our own, yet also the parallels between life in the city of Uruk and contemporary London (or just about anywhere). In Uruk winged gods live among the people, and terrifying creatures roam the world, yet its citizens suffer hangovers, struggle with flood defences, and grumble about their rulers. Equally, while its eponymous hero Gilgamesh might have a four-winged star for a father and preternatural strength, his arrogance as a sixteen year old boy will feel familiar to many parents, and his growing self-awareness as he battles through his trials and tribulations makes this a timeless coming-of-age story.

Although at times the musical elements of the performance seemed a little superfluous, Ben Heggarty's narration was impressively energetic, and successfully transported the audience from their Sunday afternoon in a slightly stuffy auditorium to Mesopotamian palaces, lion-filled plains, and the jewel-filled forests of the underworld. Above all, it re-awakened a childlike delight in surrendering to the power of a story well told.

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