(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 2/7.)
Three decades ago, Peter Brook’s production of the Mahabharata helped to redefine theatre.
It not only made the ancient Sanskrit text available to a global audience but also proved a piece of epic theatre could be created out of the elementary ingredients of earth, fire and water. Now Brook and his long-time collaborator, Marie-Hélène Estienne, have returned to the same source and fashioned a remarkable 65-minute piece that is clearly intended as a parable for our times.
Using four actors and a musician, Brook and Estienne evoke the apocalyptic aftermath of a great war between rival members of the same family. Yudhishthira, the king of the Pandavas, confronts the fact that, with millions lying dead on the battlefield, victory feels like a defeat.