Oxford Stage Company, Paradise Lost

Review in Issue 18-3 | Autumn 2006

John Milton's Paradise Lost is here adapted for the stage by Ben Power, with choreography by Liam Steele of DV8. Mixing spoken text, dance and multimedia effects, it is a richly theatrical depiction of the ultimate struggle for ascendancy and of the fall of mankind. It is a self-consciously contemporary production. Back-drop projections hold the space well, there's a (mostly good) composed soundscape and excellent lighting and special effects: with his rebel army about him after defeat in battle, Satan burns in a lake of fire. Here is Pandemonium, the capital of Satan and his cronies. They appear as shabby Michael Jackson-esque zombies, straight from the Thriller video. Thrown out from heaven and consumed by bitter revenge, Satan plots to destroy God's newest creation (Earth). The upfront staging and talk-show style use of the microphone suggests that Jerry Springer The Opera might have been an inspiration. Satan sweet-talks his way out of hell, eventually to tempt Eve and seduce humanity, which we encounter in the second half. I was absorbed more by this second half. Vivid green floor lighting glows under the innocent frolicking of Adam and Eve. So near to death grows life – they are completely naked by the Tree of Interdicted Knowledge. Satan appears as a man in a snakeskin jacket and does his deed. Adam and Eve are cursed and methodically get dressed. Driven out from bliss, they leave with Providence as their guide.

A contemporary hooded fellow is on stage throughout, as an observer, a witness, and at the end as narrator. This Paradise Lost is certainly highly theatrical, with a purer, less dressed second half working better than the first.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Festival
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. May 2006

This article in the magazine

Issue 18-3
p. 24