Photos – Richard Lennon
So, you want the biblical tale of man’s fall to have grit and passion? Paradise Lost by Bare Witness Theatre Company takes John Milton’s 350-year-old 12-book epic poem, and concentrates the juicy bits into about an hour of teeth-gnashing classic acting.
Taking on such an iconic saga is a tough gig. And for one man to guide a small audience on the journey really needs attention to detail. Theatre artist Christopher Samuel Carroll uses a lot of skill to fine tune every minute of where to stand, his facial expression, vocal tone, accent and volume. All the more impressive in such a stripped back production – in every sense. No set. No props. No costumes – though there is a dash of Japanese. I’m not really sure what that brings to the experience. Perhaps it’s to generate a contemplative mood both before and after Carroll’s monologue interlaced with multiple characters, in a kind of Benedict Cumberbatch-does-Shakespeare manner.
Speaking of the Bard, the lingo of Paradise Lost is similar: lots of ‘thee’, ‘thoest’...which takes some concentration to mind-translate into ye olde 2017 (at least it did for me). Thankfully Carroll’s natural skill remembering all those lines maintains momentum while he also captures attention with natural storytelling gestures. The lighting design by Gillian Schwab also helps to transition between characters and scenes: warm glows in ‘good’ and sharp shadow contrasts for ‘evil’.
If passionate poetry recital is what bites your apple, then Paradise Lost is a polished work. But if you prefer stand-up comedy, plotline based plays or blingy productions, Paradise Lost may be a little too... esoteric.
Bare Witness Theatre Company presents
Belconnen Arts Centre | 118 Emu Bank, Belconnen ACT
26 – 28 January 2017
$22 – $28
The Flaming Locomotive: Engine Room | State Theatre Centre of WA (access from downstairs bar), 174 - 176 William Street, Northbridge WA
31 Jan – 4 Feb 2017
$20 – $25
Henrietta’s | 29-31 Chesser St, Adelaide
16 – 25 February 2017
$22 – $28
Supported by Belconnen Arts Centre