FRINGE REVIEW: Milton's classic demands undivided attention in modern recreation "Paradise Lost"
Paradise Lost renders its audience utterly transfixed, but at what, exactly, often remains difficult to ascertain – at least to the unenlightened viewer. This isn’t to say that this is a poor adaptation of John Milton’s epic poem by any means, only that it cannot be fully appreciated by those who have not taken the time to digest its original written format. This modern recreation almost feels purely supplementary, rather than the works of a standalone piece. But irrespective of your prior consumption of 17th century English poetry, this bold interpretation never fails to keep your attention ensnared and your curiosity invoked.
The narrative centres on the genesis of Original Sin. Thematically estranged from any flicker of light-heartedness, this hour-long spectacle brings its audience to plentiful viscerally dark thresholds. Covered head to toe in white paint and aided by a modest loincloth, Christopher Samuel Carroll delivers an impassioned solo performance through his myriad of colourful characters. Unfeasible bodily contortions contribute to the tormented dispositions of these hellish archetypes, which include goblins, hellhounds, and Satan himself.
At first glance through contemporary societal eyes, this play seems to dangerously teeter on verbosity. Cumbersome language with minimal breathing room appears fiercely misplaced and superfluous. However, when appropriately situated within its intended context, we understand that it hits its target with hair-splitting accuracy.
Paradise Lost is trying to exhaust you. It is trying to defeat you. By completely obliterating our sense of security, it unapologetically provokes man’s enduring sense of complacency. The jarring clash between morality and duality is a confounding subject, and Milton and Carroll both know this with profound intimacy. Paradise Lost captures an inescapable atmosphere that is the dormant hell of our capricious human minds, leaving us gawking with a stubborn knot in our gut that refuses to desist even after its chilling conclusion.