Gene Banyard in Prometheus Bound

PB Poster DraftI much enjoyed the UoC Classics Department’s production of Prometheus Bound last night. Gene Banyard’s performance in the lead part was fantastic. It’s on tonight (11 Dec) and tomorrow (12 Dec), so if you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend that you do. It’s $10 or $15, 8:00pm at the Old Queens Theatre near the SW corner of Hereford and Colombo streets, Christchurch.

I am no classics scholar, but I found Robin Bond’s translation lyrical and dynamic. The venue is urban and gritty. The austere set, lighting and music evoke the stark horror of Prometheus’ predicament. The supporting cast are somewhat variable, but mostly with convincing and fluent delivery. Tracy Scarrett stands out with a forceful and expressive performance as Io. The chorus provide an elegant physical and narrative presence.

Of the hour and a half that this performance runs for, I’d guess an hour is the lead part of Prometheus. Gene Banyard’s slight physique and ragged costume create the impression of pitiful vulnerability. Despite this, he fills the auditorium with his presence. Prometheus, as Hermes points out, is all but relishing his plight. He is wronged but he is not beaten. He regales his guests with heroic and gory tales and prophecies. He rails in defiance of Zeus. He receives and dispenses both honour and contempt with equal facility. He is prepared to suffer for an eternity before his redemption.

Gene Banyard delivers a formidable performance as Prometheus. As you return from the Old Queens to ordinary life, it is hard to imagine that he is not still holding forth from his icy peak.