"A disconcerting yet powerful tale"
by Rebecca Wall for remotegoat on 06/08/17

Having spent much of a rainy Edinburgh day wandering around the National Gallery of Scotland, admiring sensuous Renaissance depictions of ancient gods and heroes, it was disconcerting to attend this performance of Shakespeare’s poem ‘Venus and Adonis’, which brought to life a darker side of the goddess of love. While Titian’s Venus is a guileless prepubescent beauty emerging from the waves, here the goddess is a terrifying force that refuses to be thwarted in her inappropriate desire for the adolescent Adonis, a youth who'd rather be hunting with his friends than enjoying the adult pursuit of love.

The rich, intense language of the text underlines the ridiculousness of Venus’s suit, but Christopher Hunter’s performance highlights the sinister misuse of her power against a child. Hunter masterfully switches between the weary and increasingly desperate persona of Adonis, and the shrill, lustful voice of Venus. Despite its archaic tone, there is a timeless horror to the tale, all the more amplified for its unusual role reversal of masculine virtue pursued by feminine vice. For all that this was uncomfortable viewing, the production made me curious to read the original work, and left me with its potent lines and metaphors ringing through my head.

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