Review: Enter Achilles

Lloyd Newson has reinstated his iconoclastic work to great effect

dance review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Enter Achilles
Photo by Hugo Glendinning
Published 17 Mar 2020

A night at the pub with the lads – a rite of passage. Pints flowing, songs blasting, faces punched, women brutalised. A night like any other. Newson uses the British pub setting to exaggerate the detrimental machismo seen across the UK in a harsh and hilarious work of physical theatre.

A poignant short solo act shows one man ‘stabbing’ himself with his pint glass – allowing the beer to flow into his clothes before ripping it away. Over and over he painfully takes the beer into himself in a beautiful physical depiction of alcoholism and dependence.

In the brutal second act, a blow up sex doll is brought onstage in the only depection of the female form throughout the work and is literally kicked around the circle of like a soccer ball. This blatant objectification is incredibly difficult to watch, as the men leer and laugh – every now and then grabbing the doll and miming various sex acts.

Are men truly this one-dimensional? Thinking of nothing but boobs and beers?

Newson creates a space where the pint glass is king – the men scramble over each other for the next drop, showing their fiery temperament in fist fights and arguments. There are moments of male tenderness, but always bookended with banter and jest, highlighting men’s inability to show genuine emotion. Any vaguely feminine traits – such as crossed legs – are seen as a threat to the overtly masculine traits portrayed which are both innately powerful and fragile. This work is accessible and affecting in exploring the male behavioural code and examining its great downfalls.