“Unpublished” notes on Prometheus Bound

Despite the common theme of bondage, a comparison between Samuel Beckett’s Lucky and the eponymous character of this existential Ancient Greek tragedy doesn’t immediately spring to mind. And yet, in Henry Regan’s gutsy portrayal of Prometheus, we see a similar decent into rambling madness, as our actor utilises the leather straps that bind him as a springboard for a tense and physical performance.

 

Regan begins not with fully formed words, but with wet mumblings and incantations. With flesh rendered pink and white with the strain of the performance, and teeth bared, our character brings the timeless doubts of his character across with urgent clarity. Transformed from the initial dead-weight who is flung, doll-like, across the stage, Regan becomes animated in his holds, and he gazes at his tormentors with a disbelieving bitterness, occasionally interrupting a flat stream of RP with thoroughly impassioned, spat-out rage.

In Regan’s Prometheus, we meet a man convinced of his own self worth, and the extent of delusion here is artfully ambiguous. Here, Prometheus is simultaneously mankind’s saviour, a godless heretic and a fitful dreamer absorbed in his own lusty, troubled imagination. It’s a performance that guts the play we know, presenting an autopsy of all the deep-set, moody forces that make what is essentially the staging of being tied to a rock, so compelling.

Unfortunately, the world surrounding Prometheus often affords the audience as little hope as it does its tragic hero. And so, despite an imaginative use of puppetry and a committed, ego-less performance from Christie Banks as Io, Fire Under the Horizon’s production occasionally feels far from satisfying. Under the direction of Cieranne Kennedy Bell, a female chorus writhe and sway as the soundscape floods with the noises of the ocean. Dressed in synthetic sheer fabrics and always poised halfway between coitus and sea-sickness, these characters all shout over-seasoned utterances, as if performing for the Gods in an architectural, rather than theological sense. It’s an ill-fitting tone of voice for this pub theatre.

Later, the audio tides go out, replaced by pulsating bass in Martin Brady’s sound design. In a script where torturous alienation looms as the greatest threat, this piece is too energetic and evocative of life to fully communicate the true terror of Prometheus’s plight, and this production could better embrace our strong, deserted actor – an individual as isolated in his mighty stage presence, as his character is in his state of doom.

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