Review: Prometheus Awakes at GDIF

The human net in Prometheus Awakes.

Where do I start with the spectacular that was Prometheus Awakes at the Greenwich+Docklands International Festival?

Here’s what I want to say (in a high pitched voice really fast): Oh my goodness, it was amazing, I loved it!
But I realise that I’m writing a review, so I should probably be a little less teenage girl, and expand a little more on my views.
The production was put together by disabled-led theatre company Graeae and Spanish company La Fura dels Baus, famous for their outdoor work and puppetry.

Prometheus Awakes started with projections on the Queen’s House.
Prometheus Awakes melded the three myths of Prometheus – he created man, he invented fire, his liver was eaten by an eagle and then it regrew every day as a punishment from Zeus – seamlessly into one.

Prometheus awakes.
The production in the grounds of the Royal Museums Greenwich started with a boom and projections on the Queen’s House, with the final ones showing the puppet Promethus and spelling out his name in both letters and in sign language.

In the audience our gaze then moved to the right, as the 25ft tall puppet of Promethus was slowly lifted from a lying position into a crane and then lit up. Six volunteers (and the crane) then steered Prometheus through the crowd.

While we were still busy gasping over this stunning spectacle Prometheus came to a stop, and our attention was once again diverted, this time to a bag being hoisted by a crane right over our heads. First glitter came out of the bag onto the crowd and then a woman appeared – the first human.

A trio of dancers on the balcony of Queen’s House took our attention, and the first human soon joined them. As Prometheus made his was towards her – going around the back of the crowd – it was time for the fire. Flames leapt up into air before volunteer performers carrying flares walked purposefully through the crowd.
The human censer.
This was all stunning enough, with more projections of the Queen’s House of fire and eagles adding to the thrill thrumming through the crowd. Then it was time for another of Graeae’s set pieces – the human censer, which rose high above the crowd with performers on it doing daring dancing moves.
Prometheus Awakes also featured a giant hamster wheel of sorts, which rolled back and forth between the crowd, with the performers inside wowing everyone, and then all bursting into a shrill type of shrieking as the tale of Prometheus reached its dark point – Prometheus, in love with the first human, thought he was being rejected by her (I think) and she left the stage.

Moments later she reappeared, climbing up the body of Prometheus to rest at his shoulder and watch the play’s stunning finale – a net of humans raised into the air to swing over the crowd to thumping music.

The cheers and clapping as the performers that made up the net danced only grew louder and louder, and the looks of joy on their faces as they took in the reaction of the crowd only fueled more applause.

Prometheus Awakes was a stunning production. It was truly interactive outdoor theatre, with an audience made up of everyone from young children to teenage friends to couples and families and more.

There was no need for barriers and stewards, as the audience moved seamlessly with the performers, knowing instinctively when to move out of the way and where to look – and we almost became a part of the production ourselves.

Graeae and La Fura dels Baus should be applauded for the work they did, as should all the performers, disabled and non-disabled. When I spoke to the play’s co-director Amit Sharma, he said he wanted people to leave Prometheus Awakes thinking it was a great production and not thinking about how good it was in relation to it being disabled-led. He has succeeded. I didn’t give a thought to whether the performers in front of me were disabled or non-disabled, for me Prometheus Awakes was just a hugely successful, hugely thrilling piece of outdoor theatre which I’m still thinking about hours later.

Prometheus Awakes will be performed once more at the Stockton International Riverside Festival on Thursday, August 2 at 10pm. Click here for more information.

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