Theatre review: Stink Foot at the Yard Theatre

Stink Foot by Jeff James. Daniel Millar (Philoctetes) and Joshua Miles (Neo). Picture: Bronwen Sharp

Stink Foot by Jeff James. Daniel Millar (Philoctetes) and Joshua Miles (Neo). Picture: Bronwen Sharp - Credit: Archant

Classic Greek tale of Trojan War oozes with life, says Anna Behrmann.

Stink Foot is a highly original vision of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, adapted and directed by Jeff James. At times dark, often comical, the play oozes with life.

Miles away from the battle cries of the Trojan War, we are welcomed into exile on a strange island, with its cloying smells and blank open spaces.

Neoptolemus, son of Achilles, played by Joshua Miles, was just a boy when the Greek army left a man to rot on the island, with his stinking, snake-bitten foot.

Now Neoptolemus puffs out his chest as a man of nobility, but he is ordered to sink to his knees and roll in the dirt; to commit an awful deed in order to win the war.

At first jovial and fickle, Joshua Miles shines when he begins to revel and retch in the darkness and tries to claw back his honour.

Philoctetes, played by Daniel Millar, is outstanding; he slithers and drags his filthy foot around the stage, half-wild, half-mad with anger and thwarted ambition.

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The stagecraft is excellent; treacle is smeared across the floorboards and the lighting changes from intimate and nightmarish to searching and stark.

We are immersed, quite literally, in Philoctetes’ agony – the faint-of-heart should avoid the front row.

This is a play of strong men – and women – who fight to keep their legacies and forget their promises.

As the bold and strong Odysseus, played by Rosie Thomson, reminds Neoptolemus: “The man who wins is always right, no matter what else he does.”

Thomson has a caricatured style of acting, observing and puppeteering the actions of Philoctetes and Neoptolemus and rolling her eyes as they crash across the stage.

And always, we find the watchful eyes of the gods, laughing at the desires of mere mortals.

Rating: 4/5 stars