Reinterpreting a Greek myth for the present day

Icarus. Created and performed by Christopher Samuel Carroll. Sound designer: Kimmo Vennonen. Lighting designer: Jed Buchahan. The Street Theatre. February 27 to March 3. thestreet.org.au.

In Greek mythology, Icarus, on wings made of wax and feathers, flew too close to the sun. The wax melted and he fell from the sky into the sea and drowned.

Christopher Samuel Carroll in his one-man show <i>Icarus</i>.  Photo: Shelly Higgs

Christopher Samuel Carroll in his one-man show Icarus.  Photo: Shelly Higgs

The Street Theatre's first 2019 production, Icarus, takes its inspiration from the ancient story as well as the modern refugee crisis.

Irish physical theatre performer Christopher Samuel Carroll created and performs this one-man piece. It was seen as a work in development in The Street Theatre's First Seen program last year.

"The story of the show is essentially that of an Everyman whose life is turned upside down by civil war," Carroll says.

The man is forced to flee his home and embark on an epic journey that sees him stow away in the landing gear of an aeroplane, a very risky action he sees as his only means of escape.

It is based on the true story of a refugee’s journey, stowed away in the landing gear of a plane, before he fell to his death on a London street.

"The subject matter is quite intense, with dark emotions," Carroll says.

But, he says, "The style of performing is quite light, quite comic, almost in the style of a silent movie - Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton."

Carroll says there are moments of slapstick woven throughout the show, offsetting its darker moments.

"The main character is quite naive and playful," he says.

"I've done a couple [of one-man pieces] before - Early Grave, Fashionably Late and Paradise Lost.

"They're very physical shows."

And Icarus - performed without dialogue - is also highly physical, with lighting by Jed Buchanan and sound design by Kimmo Vennonen to help bring the audience into the story.

Christopher Samuel Carroll in his one-man show <i>Icarus</i>.  Photo: Shelly Higgs

Christopher Samuel Carroll in his one-man show Icarus.  Photo: Shelly Higgs

Carroll, 33, trained as an actor at Trinity College, Dublin and underwent further training at Ecole Internationale du Theatre Jacques Lecoq,in Paris, where Geoffrey Rush and Steve Berkoff also studied.

He's lived and worked in a number of places and came to Canberra in 2016 with his partner Hannah Cormick, who was from the nation's capital. Since coming here he has created his own shows and appeared in the productions by others.

He developed a Butoh adaptation of Paradise Lost during a five-week residency at Belconnen Arts
Centre, before touring to Adelaide and Perth and Early Grave,
Fashionably Late sold out at Smith’s Alternative after a week-long run at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne as part of their curated summer program in December 2016.
He's appeared in Everyman Theatre Company’s The Normal
Heart at The Courtyard Studio, Body Ecology’s Anthems and Angels at Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres and in The Mermaid, a performance art piece with Cormick, at the Art, Not Apart festival in New Acton.

Carroll was also cast as Malvolio in Shakespeare by the Lakes' 2019 production of Twelfth Night.

Over the past year he and Cormick have been developing a large-scale work around
illness and disability through The Street Theatre's Hive script development program, working with dramaturg Peter Matheson.

It sounds like he will be part of Canberra's creative community for some time to come.