THEATRE / Kings - Cottesloe Theatre, SE1

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The Independent Culture
Enter Christopher Logue and Alan Howard, the former with his hair swept forward like that of a Roman emperor, the latter dressed as if for a Sunday afternoon stroll on Clapham Common. Logue utters a short prologue and then sits down at a bare trestle table.

Meanwhile, Howard swings on to a bar stool and begins his account. This is no Dave Allen bar-room monologue but Logue's hour-and-a-half long version of Books I and II of Homer's Iliad: the story of Achilles and Agamemnon's falling out just before the storming of Troy by the Greeks.

The occasional anachronistic surprise in Logue's rich imagery reminds us of the relevance of these far-off power struggles - Ajax the warrior is 'grim under his tan as Rommel after Alamein', the Greek nobles not wanting to share the honour of storming Troy with the 'trash' of the lower ranks. The gods too make their entry into the tale, bickering and scheming like mere mortals, their distinction being their supernatural powers rather than their superior forms of behaviour.

Howard has the herculean task of making a distinction between the large cast of characters he plays (Logue joins in the story telling only occasionally). This he executes with clarity and humour, though as the pace of the tale picks up, those with little or no knowledge of the story have to concentrate hard as new names enter. The final passage, the march of the Greek army towards Troy, is utterly exilharating, both in its writing and in execution.

Continues 27, 28 and 29 October. Box office: 071-928 2252