Hyperion (3 stars)

This article is from 2017


One-man show delving into Greek history and literature

As part of the endlessly lunatic Fringe where shows typically deal with such heady subject matter as Love Island, Star Wars and nude magic, you have to credit esprit de corps and George Siena for their literary ambition; a working knowledge of the writings of Friedrich Hölderlin is just one of the qualifications useful for Hyperion, which takes its name from the author's novel, as well as a recalcitrant ship.

The means of transport is awaited by a young Greek man, named only as 16744, forced to do national service, but now adrift with his thoughts when the Hyperion does not arrive as scheduled. His thoughts drift to Hölderlin's writings, and he imagines hosting a literary salon with Lords Byron and Elgin as guests. His musings relate to his sense of nationality, and to whether Greece's future can match up to the greatness of the past.

If it sounds like Siena has a lot of work to do, that's an understatement. Tasked with evoking a number of different worlds, he puts a manic enthusiasm into capturing 16744's blind sense of duty, and makes ingenious use of sampling technology to hold conversations with himself. A barrow-load of books tipped to the floor indicates the high-faluting nature of the play; stepping nimbly from one dusty text to another, Hyperion the play demands almost as much of the audience as of the performer.

Non-Greeks may find it hard to follow all the nuances, although a beautifully spoken final monologue manages to tie together the various threads in a poignant lament for a country which, on this evidence, is not changing for the better. Hyperion won't be for everyone, but anyone decrying the lack of heavy intellectual lifting going on at the Fringe should buy a ticket and get in line; Siena's one-man show provides a welcome streak of intellectual rigour.

Greenside @ Royal Terrace, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 11.25am, £7 (£6).


  • 3 stars

esprit de corps 'Being called a Greek feels like being bound with a dog collar.' In a bunker on a Greek island, a conscript keeps watch. Alone. His mission: to guard the border for 72 hours. Three days later, no one shows up: no replacement, no pick-up, no one. What now? Blending physical theatre, text, original music and…