You know the story. The abduction of Helen. The wooden horse. The fall of Troy.Simon Armitage’s new play is a vivid re-engineering of Homer and Virgil, a meditation on ‘own’ and ‘other’, an unblinkered look at the costs and sorrows of war. In truth, a play about war (rather than a lion hunt, say, another ancient theme) will always be of the moment: Achilles mutilating Hector’s corpse; a British soldier giving a thumbs-up over the body of a dead insurgent.
To many, the plays will evoke the world of Fawlty Towers; and it should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that John Cleese has often expressed his admiration for Feydeau. It is interesting in this regard to look at Les Paves de l’ours from 1896, a play wherein an upper-class bachelor employs a country bumpkin as a man-servant, believing him to be ‘a diamond in the rough’.