Beowulf: A Thousand Years of Baggage

Jason Craig
Banana Bag & Bodice Productions
Assembly George Square

The story of Beowulf has been re-imagined many times before; it's a familiar staple of the Edinburgh Fringe and the recounting of the infamous Norse myth is always open to new interpretations. What sets Banana Bag and Bodice's version apart from traditional versions of the story is the utterly raucous manner in which it's told, which holds more in common with the way it might have been performed long ago than you might guess.

Beginning with three speakers talking about the story in a dryly academic tone, the show comes to life during the introduction of the monster Grendel, when one of the narrators leaps upon a stool and begins swilling down cans of beer, then passing several out amongst the crowd. Slowly but surely, the performance builds from there into a full swing blues band with dancers, singing and parts of the story acted out all round the theatre.

It's infectiously entertaining and, besides the rampant, utterly compelling enthusiasm, great fun and the brilliant musical talent on display, it's also a fascinating look at the story and its wider meaning. Truly a fantastic show.

Reviewer: Graeme Strachan