The A.R.T. puts a modern musical twist on a medieval epic.
Take an old English epic poem, throw in a modern-day cabaret influence and music types ranging from jazz to rock to electronica, finish it off with some beer, and youâ€™ve got Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage, a new production from the Brooklyn-based theater company Banana Bag & Bodice at the American Repertory Theaterâ€™s Oberon space.
Among a spate of literary classics coming to life on Boston stages this monthâ€”including Hamlet, at BU, and an Iliad adaptation, at ArtsEmersonâ€”Beowulf might deviate the most from what could be called a traditional rendition.
â€śItâ€™s considered a song play, which is not necessarily a full-blown musical,â€ť says Ari Barbanell, the A.R.T.â€™s director of special projects. â€śItâ€™s sort of a rock-cabaret-style show. Itâ€™s Beowulf done in a totally blow-it-out-of-the-water kind of way.â€ť
The poem tells the story of the Scandinavian hero Beowulf, who sets off to slay the villain Grendel, a violent beast that has been attacking King HroĂ°garâ€™s mead hall. The A.R.T. performanceâ€™s three-week run, set to begin April 16, will feature six characters, including a singing Beowulf and a sloppy, beer-drinking Grendel. According to Barbanell, the show takes the poem and â€śmakes it accessible and celebratory and filled with music.â€ť The audience surrounding the Oberon stage, meanwhile, will get an intimate view of the action, perhaps even downing a few drinks Grendel-style.
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/article/2013/04/16/beowulf-play-boston/