Mythology, sexuality and even gravity are up for re-examination in Holding Achilles, a high-flying reimagining of Homer’s Iliad, focused on one of its central but unspoken relationships.

Prior to its debut in the 2022 Brisbane Festival, Elissa Blake spoke to show creatives David Morton and Joshua Thomson, composer Tony Buchen and actor Stephen Madsen about making a production which takes everyone in new and demanding directions.

Holding Achilles

Stephen Madsen and Karl Richmond in Holding Achilles. Photo © Dean Hanson

“This week has been all about the fighting,” says David Morton. He’s addressing a small sneak-peek audience in The Red Box, a purpose-built aerial physical theatre facility in Sydney’s inner west.

Performers in harnesses are about to commence an aerial battle armed with colossal spears. The heroes of Troy are here – Achilles, Hector, Patroclus, Ajax the Great. Riggers stand by to hoist them up into the air. Present also is composer Tony Buchen, limping and wearing a moonboot on his left foot after snapping his Achilles tendon playing squash. “You see how deeply committed I am to the whole Achilles story,” he jokes.

The actors are in their rehearsal civvies for this run. Come showtime, the performers...