Written on: 18/09/2009
Innovative, exciting, challenging and very, very different. The opening night of Ben Hur Live did I imagine, live up to most people's expectations, a spectacular of epic proportions which worked well in the main. The actor playing Ben Hur could never have the sheer charisma of Charlton Heston but brought his own strengths to the role, notably speaking in Aramaic which added authenticity. At times there was almost too much going on in the arena with such a vast array of participants - it was hard to know where to look and what to watch. Fire-eaters, jugglers, acrobats, dancers, street vendors all jostled for attention. The sea-battle was well-executed once disbelief that pirates could possibly ride quad bikes on the high seas, had been suspended. Of course the ultimate climax of the tale of Ben Hur is the chariot race - although purists would argue it should be of the crucifixion especially as the full title of the original novel was Ben Hur - A Tale of the Christ. The chariot race thrilled and amazed, both at its conception and undoubted skill. Slightly marred by the fact that Ben Hur was not driving his own chariot (unlike Charlton Heston!) but a stuntman and the race passed all too swiftly, it achieved its aim. Personally I found the narration of Stuart Copeland irrating at times with his transatlantic accent and he kept reminding me of Gerry Springer - which was bizarre and distracting. Over amplification of his microphone didn't help either.
To summarise - different, thrilling, unique and well worth watching. To see it in Rome, one of its planned engagements, would truly be the icing on the cake but notwithstanding, the O2 Arena was a good place to be last night. CF