They’ve been through the wars.
Ten actors in the Soulpepper Theatre company face the audience, standing on black gravel against a stained concrete back wall. The black box of the theatre that surrounds them is also mottled and dirty (set design is by Lorenzo Savoini). They’re wearing shades of grey: contemporary clothes designed by Gillian Gallow, covered in what looks like paint, dirt, maybe bird dung. It clings to their faces and hair, too. They look exhausted but determined, and they stare at the audience for an uncomfortably long time.
This is the opening image of Alan Dilworth’s striking production of Idomeneus, a poetic drama that retells the story of the titular Cretan king’s return from the Trojan War. While Homer’s Iliad tells a happy version of this tale, other versions narrate his fate and that of his country very differently. The preoccupation of Roland Schimmelpfennig’s play is this narrative instability: over 70 minutes various versions of his story stop, start and layer over each other.