"it makes a stunning play"
by Aline Waites for remotegoat on 17/10/17

The stories of Gilgamesh have appeared many times in works of fiction Items in the Bible and Shakespeare can be traced back to this the earliest known great work of literature.

The poem was written sometime before 2,000 BC. It consists of twelve books written by all the great poets of the times. It seems like an almost impossible task to reduce twelve long stories into just one hour, but somehow Piers Beckley has managed it and it makes a stunning play which oddly resembles a popular TV drama.

Gilgamesh was a King of superhuman strength but of flawed personality who build the great walls to defend Uruk from invaders and defeated all the enemies of the State. After winning his world he became bored, spending his time carousing and fornicating. He claimed the Droit du Seigneur having every maiden in the country the night before her wedding. “He is king, he does whatever he wants... takes the girl from her mother and uses her, the warrior's daughter, the young man's bride"

This offended the senses of all the citizens who were kept awake every night by his roistering and also fear for their daughters. The Gods devised a plan to find him a man who could equal him in strength and who might put a stop to this kind of behaviour. A wild beast Enkidu was taught to love and to speak by the Temple Harlot Shamhat and turned out to be a genius of reason. After fighting the King to stop him sullying one of the maidens the two heroes found that they were equal in strength and they loved each other. They set out together to rid the world of monsters.

Ray Shell directs the play and he has gathered an elegant set of creative talents. The setting is magnificent, consisting of giant drawings of the two heroes Gilgamesh and Enkidu made by 17 year old Ethan Cheek. The costumes are many and glamorous bought, begged or fabricated by Sophia Pardon; And the fight arranger is Ken McCurdy. In addition, Anthony Haden-Guest has devised cartoons of Gilgamesh scenes for the programme. These people and the talented cast all work hard to make a high class imaginative production.

Gilgamesh’s longing to become immortal was never realised in his lifetime, but stories about him have been retold so often and Piers Beckley has resurrected some of his life full of glamour and fun for the theatre.

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