The final episode of Talking Gods from Arrows & Traps Theatre, tells the story of Icarus, his father and the deep, dark secret which haunted his life. Written and directed by Ross McGregor, this is story family, and what happens when something alters your view of your closest relatives.
Icarus (Adam Elliott) is a well-spoken journalist and new father. The piece opens with him reminiscing about his scientific and loving father, who recently passed away. The funeral was busy, and Icarus spent much of it ensuring his mother didn’t become overwhelmed. Wanting to be a part of the real world, Icarus goes straight back to work, reporting on Zeus’ trail for various sexual assaults.
Interviewing Hestia, he is discomfited by her omniscience. As she hints at the dark secret Icarus’ father kept from him throughout his life, Icarus throws himself into drink at Aphrodite’s temple. Quickly regretting his actions, he returns home to his wife and young child, but does criticise the gods for their whims and vengeful behaviour.
We then meet Ariadne (Lucy Ioannou), an actor who is out of work due to the current lockdown situation, a reflection but not exact replica of our own. Intimately involved with the lives of the gods through her previous engagement with Dionysus, Ariadne has suffered her own losses and her story links to Icarus’ in a surprising way which leads them to visit Eurydice in the Underworld.
This piece takes a slightly different turn than the others. It is far quieter and introspective and Icarus and Ariadne are held at arm’s length throughout. The monologues feel like they are dealing with what would be a highly emotional situation at the surface level.
Previous characters are mentioned throughout, as in the earlier episodes, but rather than seeing a cameo from the other actors as before, Elliott and Ioannou narrate conversations they have had with them. Unfortunately, this enhances the sense of detachment felt throughout this piece and we do lose something of the intimate look into the lives of the gods previous episodes have created.
There is some nice commentary on the arts and how they are affected by lockdowns, no matter how these lockdowns come about, and a reminder that it is okay to slow down and not rush to do everything just because you suddenly have “all this time”. The hints of exploration of physical and mental health and the effects that these can have on the family would be worthy of further development as would the relationship between Icarus and Ariadne.
It would also be worth further developing the themes of the sun and the complexities in the science around it, particularly in view of the series’ pervious exploration of climate change and related environmental issues.
This is a thoughtful piece of theatre which closes the series in a calm and gentle way. At times the story feels a little clichéd and the action does not seem to lean into the drama which could have been produced by the story being told, however the commentary on today’s world and the parallels created within the story are interesting and more than worthy of further development and exploration.
Talking Gods V: Icarus is available to watch here https://www.arrowsandtraps.com/talkinggods
Reviewer: Donna M Day
Reviewed: 9th April 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★