|Some of The Lightning Child Cast and Dionysus (Tommy Coleman) Photo:Matthew Dunster|
If you mention The Globe Theatre to anybody it conjures up an image of Olde England, Shakespeare and culture. The Lightning Child is certainly not of olde England but would have done our greatest playwright proud. Raucous, brash, slightly confusing and completely in your face this production goes for broke.
Featuring among other things, transvestism, smack-heads, a dismemberment and coinciding monologue to the skull, think 'alas poor Yorick I knew him well' except this skull is covered in flesh and dripping blood all over the stage. The Lightning Child is based on Euripides The Bacchae and is the creation of Chè Walker. Throughout the 2 1/2 hours the play stretches (maybe a pinch to long) we are treated to multiple stories running simultaneously dealing with the excesses of society, drugs, obsession and cruelty. Narrated superbly by Ladyboy Herald (Jonathan Chambers) a time travelling, camp West Indian and equipped with some good dialogue "Work it out yourselves on the train ride home" being our favourite when referring to a particular scenario involving two heroin addicts Shug and Drax (Harry Hepple and Philip Cumbus). Its a fanfare of song, dance, murder and mayhem which we absorbed like a sponge!
'Work it out yourselves' is exactly the what we took from The Lightning Child, things are never black and white but many shades of grey, encouraging you to think about what you've witnessed and draw your own conclusions. There is a heavy seam of sexual fluidity throughout The Lightning Child, gender roles are often swapped with a number of characters confessing to living as the opposite sex in the past or battling their own gender confusion. Pentheus (Clifford Samuel) managed to play the role with an over the top machismo and desperation at his inner turmoil, it worked as we actually felt sorry for the poor guy. Dionysis (Tommy Coleman), sporting a head of brown silky locks that James Brown would have killed for, is overtly sexual to both genders, a doe eyed god with a sting in his tail and smokey vocals to seduce the ears.
As we mentioned before we did feel some slight confusion but, if Shakespeare had been alive in today's day and age we are sure he would have wanted to produce some head f**k theatre too! If you have a chance to catch it before the run ends, we promise you wont be disappointed.