Now, I don’t know much about clowning, so I wholeheartedly invite any of you out there who do to use your own knowledge to supplement this review.
Hyperion is an hour long, one man show about a conscript in the Greek army, referred to by himself and others as merely 16744, during his five-day long patrol of Bay E-15. The text is a mixture of your traditional ABCB rhyming scheme poetry; spoken word; singing; self-made sound effects; and standard dialogue. Dressed in an outfit, calling back to old school mime, of a striped shirt and dark trousers, George Siena presents to the audience 16744’s experience in Bay E-15, alongside snippets of Greece and its past (not to mention a few guest appearances from key historical players in literature).
There’s great use of multimedia and it is embedded spectacularly well within the performance. While providing the audience with added depth, the video within the piece also very subtly displaces us; it’s hard to know whether what we’re watching is in the past, the present, or the future so – like 16744 – we are somewhat removed from our natural connections to time. Byron Katritsis’ music works in perfect harmony (no pun intended) with the text. The poignant compositions are particularly effective at deepening the mood created by Siena’s gentle word.
Siena’s eyebrows are the most expressive eyebrows I think I have ever seen, and he knows exactly how to employ them to their highest potential: hamming up the humour whenever appropriate; taming their movements when a more sombre tone is required.
Using a live looping pedal, Siena creates the sounds of everyday mundanity before the audience before then performing that routine – and somehow it’s hilarious. I’m not sure I’ll ever laugh as much watching someone do chores as I did watching Siena’s 16744.
At the heart of the show, beneath the alternating humour and the despair, it seems like a show about nationality and patriotism; a show about the need and the desire to belong. But I must admit, a lot of it went over my head. (I blame it on my limited knowledge of clowning.)
With that in mind, for me, the triumph of Hyperion is in its seamlessness. It is a rare occurrence to discover a performance in which every aspect of the show compliments each other aspect in just the right way. Hyperion manages to do so. There isn’t a creative choice that seems more or less considered than the others; more or less relevant than anything else that has been chosen. I may not have understood the full message of the piece, but it was still a holistic, well-connected performance that allowed me to go on an emotional journey as it progressed. It is the physical embodiment of poetry in motion.
Hyperion played at the Cockpit Theatre on 15th November 2017 and 17th November 2017.