When someone mentions Paradise Lost, I am reminded of long nights spent at university, holding my eyelids open, trying to get through the first chapter before giving up and resorting to Sparknotes. Lost Dog has re-imagined Paradise Lost like you’ve never seen it before.
As part of Dance 4’s Nottdance Festival, Lost Dog condences Milton’s epic into an emotion-filled 75 minutes in which Ben Duke plays all four characters, binding contemporary dance with sharp-witted dialogue.
The play is divided into four different sections: God’s creation of Earth, Adam and Eve in Eden, Hell, and finally, the destruction of everything. The reason why it is so fantastic is because Duke brings all their troubles to the modern day, presenting God as a father who struggles with parenthood and can’t get his daughter ready for school in the morning. The story moves away from Milton’s wordy, biblical original and brings it to a normal day in the 21st century.
Duke creates two parts in his character of God; he plays the masterful playwright writing the play this is "essentially improvised", and the Holy Father, conjuring up the world in his two hands. Once the world is formed, we are transported to Heaven, where Lucifer and God have an alcohol-fueled one night stand, before arguing over their flat and making baby Jesus.
This is a world where chickpeas fall from the sky and anything can happen. Adam wears a peach-coloured leotard and Lucifer is a sock puppet. It all comes crumbling down, the bible is condensed into minutes, and God is just a parent. We are left feeling like mere mortals, in shock with what we have done to the world. At the end, Duke manages to evoke an emotional feeling of powerlessness; after all, we are only the creation of something else.
It is darkly humorous production, outrageously funny, and just brilliant all round. It is a beautiful celebration of the body and, quite frankly, it’s amazing how Duke changes his movements in accordance to the character he plays.
Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me) is a piece that transcends reality and I found myself not only questioning where I was, but also my own existence. It was a magical theatrical experience and I can only urge that you go and see it for yourself.
Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me) was at Nottingham Playhouse on Friday 10 March 2017.