Beowulf in Afghanistan
Created by Laurie Fyffe
Produced by A Likely Story (Ottawa)
60m | 14+ | Drama
Content Warnings: War, violence
This is a powerful play. It should be. Its roots were written in an old language where “you can hear the axe of a consonant shear a vowel to the bone.” Born from a culture which believed a soul survived for as long as stories were told of its adventures on earth.
Beowulf has survived longer than all the other campfire tales of adventurers and heroes because it is a tale fit for the dying embers of the night when warriors look within, and shadows hide their pain. For 1300 years it has been reincarnated through conflict.
We join a reliving of the tale when Canadian soldier Grant (Axandre Lemours) is posted to Afghanistan along with a thesis project on Beowulf, given to him by his classics professor Louise (Laurie Fyffe).
The narrative alternates between Louise’s passionate commentary on the tale, and Grant’s direct experience of the confusion of war. Nobility of purpose meets the futility of action. The heroic proclamations of kings stop resonating when the bullet hits the chest armour. Tales of comradeship fade when your comrade drops dead in front of you.
This is a powerful play. It is not a preachy play. It asks no questions and gives no answers. It shares an eternal experience in a visceral way.
Both characters will agree on one thing. Once a warrior begins fighting monsters, there will be no end. Even returning home will bring no peace.
As I said, this is a powerful play. It is not a preachy play. It asks no questions and gives no answers. It shares an eternal experience in a visceral way.
This sharing of an archetype and the distance of perspective was effectively illustrated using quadrant taped staging. The tension between the actors was maintained through a chess-like movement. The grid pattern was also COVID friendly. The resulting fluidity keeping the eye engaged. Creating a wholeness of experience from such a simple set.
Beowulf in Afghanistan is screening at the Ottawa Fringe Festival until June 27, 2021. Tickets are pick-your-price from $12.50 to $47.50 (100% of which goes to the artists) plus a $2.50 surcharge. Visit ottawafringe.com for streaming information and the complete festival lineup. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe. Shows are on-demand, however the festival’s ticketing platform can take up to 12 hours to email the streaming link. So although there’s no risk of online shows selling out, your best bet is to buy tickets early!