(Based on The Mahabharata and the play by Jean-Claude Carrière. Adapted and directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne)
Peter Brook famously mounted the entire ancient Indian Sanskrit epic 'The Mahabharata' in 1989 and he has returned to this show but only one section in the middle called 'Battlefield' which focuses on Bishma and Yudhishthira.
The staging is simple and plain and 5 actors and one musician superbly and evocatively tell us this segment of the story. The full text is ten times the length of The Illiad and The Odyysey combined.
There are stories and fables told by the characters throughout that are deeply fascinating and makes us look deep into ourselves and focus on certain actions that we as humans make and what is right and wrong. The way the narrative runs is interesting but when a story is told completely in narrative it does mean we don't get much interaction with the characters themselves which is where the main conflict/drama is usually found. Don't get me wrong, there are some great moments still found in this piece but it did feal too laboured at times and too reverential and aware of itself. We know the play is dealing with big themes and big ideas and reverence from the performers to the fact is not needed. Sadly it seemed to get a little lost and unclear near the end & I had re-read the play not to long ago in preparation. It was good to see school children seemingly engaged in the piece and I would wonder what they made of it.
Peter Brook is a Titan, but Battlefiel felt laboured and the acting didn't feel tight enough, I would have expected/thought someone like Peter Brook to have worked his actors much harder. However there is still much to be gleamed from the themes and stories of the play.