"Enter Achilles"

Comment on DV8's piece "Enter Achilles", seen on video Nov 30th, 1999

DV8 is the best-established British physical theatre company, and the film "Enter Achilles" shows their trademarks: humorous and actionfilled movement sequences, characters, dramatic tensions...

The piece is about male attitudes, or rather laddish brutality, depicted through a stereotyped group of men at the pub. One is different, he prefers more romantic music, he sings, he moves more delicately and slightly effeminate, and the rest of the group effectively isolates him. This narrative of prejudice and exclusion runs through the entire film.

The message is clear, the images are strong, it is well performed, and well translated to the television screen. The only thing lacking, is a target audience.

To change attitudes, DV8 would have to target the piece either at lads like those they caricature, or demonstrate how certain of these attitudes exist in everyone. I believe the strong stereotyping prevent both these strategies from working:

Since the only alternative male figure in the film, is the "different" man, a target audience of lads might get their prejudices strengthened: the piece seems to confirm that the only alternative to laddish behaviour is to be effeminate.

Targeted at other audiences, the main message appears as "look how bad these people are". In this case, the piece supports our prejudices, and fails to provoke a look at ourselves to see if we share their behaviour of exclusion.

In both cases, "Enter Achilles" sadly does not work as intended.


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