Memorial By Alice Oswald

Starring Helen Morse ◼︎ Direction by Chris Drummond

A review by David Faber

Director Chris Drummond has dramatically realized upon the stage poet Alice Oswald’s compelling elegy to the fallen of the Iliad. The author has succeeded in interpreting the atmosphere of the epic, by stripping it of narrative detail.

The narrator, her words echoed by a numerous chorus and small orchestra, recounts the humanity of the dead warriors, the horror of their injuries and the grief of their loved ones in a dirge of mourning for the human cost of war, never sufficiently accounted for in the millennia of slaughter which continue to traumatize the human race. It is fitting that the production has been brought to Adelaide in this year which sees the centenary of the final year of the Great War, in which so many Australians amongst others were sacrificed.

The problem of war and peace is an environmental issue, as was demonstrated in the wake of the shock and awe visited by Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, when catastrophic pollution was unleashed during the destruction inflicted upon the invaded country being `liberated’. Moreover while the calculus of conflict preoccupies policy makers, the environmental crisis facing us is unlikely to receive due attention. This well received play helps move us nearer to a proper appreciation of the preciousness of life, a perspective which represents our last best hope.