04 August 2021
4.0 out of 5.0 stars
Ah, the classics! And by that I mean old Greek myths. Paradise is a new version of Philoctetes, a play by Sophocles, first performed in 409 BC. Chronologically set in the Trojan war shortly before the Trojan Horse, this story follows the titular Philoctetes, wielder of Heracles mythical bow, who was tricked by Odysseus and left in exile on a desert island after contracting a nasty wound from a snake bite.
Ten years later, Odysseus receives the prophecy that the Trojan war cannot be won without Philoctetes and his bow, so he sets off with Achilles’ son Neoptolemus to rescue the war veteran from his island and recruit him back to the war.
Of course, Philoctetes is embittered and has nursed his hatred from Odysseus for a decade, trying to survive on this island while nursing his still festering injury. Torn between rescue and revenge, Philoctetes ponders the meaning of pride, betrayal, and life itself. The all-female company gloriously leads through this new version of an ancient play with age-old themes of what makes us human, what makes us happy, what boundaries are we not willing to cross.
Powerful and imaginative, a beautiful combination of old and new, Paradise is an absolute do-not-miss performance in the beautifully redesigned Olivier Theatre at the National. It’s on until 11 September.