- David Kettle
- 6 August 2017
Ambitious drama about a brutal regime has too much going on
Right at the start of their ambitious show, young Anglo-Icelandic company Rokkur Friggjar immerse us in a brutal, authoritarian regime, all bigoted nationalistic anthems and harsh, unforgiving discipline. And one in which school serves to brainwash youngsters to hate and fear the northern 'hounds', with whom there's an unending war – as well as pushing pupils onto an inescapable conveyor belt towards military service and death.
It's a great set-up, and strongly delivered, but it's also probably the strongest thing about a show that feels like it needs quite a bit of trimming and tightening. With an impressive nine-strong cast, there are a few too many storylines for us to engage with any of them properly. The central plot revolves around young Patrik and Thea (Dagur Sigurðar Úlfarsson and Birna Gudmunðsdóttir, both very persuasive), at first united in their love and their opposition to the system, but later finding their relationship fractured by bloody events.
Elsewhere, however, subplots of teenage infatuation and bravado largely pass by without making much of an impression. The direction – by the show's writer Anna Íris Pétursdóttir – brings episodes of screaming intensity, yet strangely moments of dark humour and pathos remain unmined. There's enormous potential here, but Hero needs its themes and storylines teased apart if they're to strike home with the impact they deserve.
Upper Church @ Summerhall hosted by RBC, until 14 Aug, 10am, £8 (£6).