It is Day 4 of Atlantic Fringe and the show that I am telling everyone I meet to go see is still Beyond the Mountains Productions’ (Montreal) Paradise Lost. You will not have a fulfilled 21st Atlantic Fringe Festival if you miss this production and I would strongly advise you to go sooner rather than later, because I anticipate that the last few shows will sell out like blueberry pancakes with whipped cream.
This beautifully artful adaptation of John Milton’s epic 17th century poem takes us to the realm of Satan and follows the Fall of Man and the banishing of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. Visually, Paradise Lost is stunning to look at. Using vivid animated multimedia overtop simple white curtains, the stage is immediately transformed into a magically fluid playing space, which can erupt into a fiery inferno one moment and then flower into Eden at the flick of a switch.
Performer Paul Van Dyck also makes brilliant use of more traditional theatrical magic, as he uses these same curtains to create exquisite wings, conjures a devious snake and, most compelling of all, tells the story of Adam and Eve with stunning use of puppetry. This postmodern layering of new technologies over the old enriches Milton’s poem and the themes that he raises about the origins of sin, the connection being made between knowledge and evil and the gender politics at play between Adam, Eve and God to name only a few.
As a story teller, Van Dyck relates Milton’s poem as though 17th Century English were his native tongue, with such clarity and crisp, smooth diction that a poem that may appear daunting or downright intimidating on the page, becomes natural and immediately captivating. Van Dyck gives each of his characters their own distinct voices, and I appreciated that they were not all cartoon extremes, but that Adam and Eve, figures who are so tragically human, are given their own subtle human voices. It is also apt for Adam and Eve to be literal puppets, for it reflects nicely the relationship between these creatures and their sometimes vengeful and all-powerful creator.
While Van Dyck is a talented and commanding actor to watch, it is his mastery of the puppets that makes this show so mesmerizing and unique. The intimacy and depth of emotion and connection he is able to weave with two inanimate objects is nothing short of magic.
This one is not to be missed. Run, don’t walk.
Paradise Lost plays at Danspace (1531 Grafton Street) at the following time: It is $9.00
Monday September 5th, 7:00
It then plays Neptune’s Studio Theatre (1593 Argyle Street) at the following times:
Wednesday, September 7th, 10:00pm
Saturday September 10th, 12:30pm
To book advanced tickets please visit Neptune Theatre’s Box Office, 1593 Argyle Street or call 902.429.7070 or visit www.atlanticfringe.ca.
Same Day Sales are available at the venue (Neptune Studio Theatre) From 1 Hour Before the First Show of the Day.