You just knew that in the origin story of Totnes, yoga would have to be in there somewhere. Will Kemp’s radio play Brutus of Troy: First King of Britain is a romping history tale of adventure, asylum, fortune and fate.
Murder and rebellion
The breezy half-hour audio performance charts how the young Brutus made his way from Italy, via Greece, to the south coast town of Totnes. There’s murder, rebellion, romance (kinda) and a giant.
Combining poetic, historic-type language with more forthright styles, this is an accessible and amusing trip into myth.
Will’s research seems exhaustive. Inspired by the first story in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, he’s also pulled on Blake, Milton, Spenser, ‘a mention in Gawain and the Green Knight and lots of other places, and is informed by the ancient chronicles that presented the Brutus story as real history’.
And the play’s strength is in melding those sources into an easily enjoyable exploration origin story highlighting the fantasy of national sovereignty and echoing contemporary issues, including migration, Brexit… and the fantasy of national sovereignty.
Mardy to mature
Sam Hunter as Brutus manages to mature from a mardy teen to the first king of England, while keeping a light innocence. Inspiration and heroics comes from Eleanor Webster as Innogen, Corina, and goddess Diana. Charlie Tantam plays Greek king Pandrasus and Albion’s giant Gogmagog. Additional voices are from James Murphy-Stevens. And the trumpet and cornetto playing is by Tamsin Cowell.
From the first intimate and arousing prophesy Brutus of Troy is absorbing, and reflects the age-old power of storytelling.
Listen to Brutus of Troy: First King of Britain on Soundart Radio on Tuesday, 30 March at 5pm and Thursday 1 April at 11am.
Brutus of Troy: First King of Britain was commissioned by Soundart Radio as part of the Tomorrow’s Transmissions project, supported by the Culture Recovery Fund.
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