“Creating a script that runs just under two and half hours from twelve books of poetry that run between 600 and 1000 lines each is no small challenge.
One major change Shields and director Jackie Maxwell made is representing the Devil as a woman. Milton’s original text has only two women as characters and only Eve has a major part. But, thanks to Lucy Peacock’s sizzling performance, this manager of the Underworld has never been more fun to watch at work.”
“I don’t mind a satire of a work that an author understands. I can’t abide a satire of a work an author does not or can’t be bothered to understand. Shields is free to portray God as a tyrant with his angels automatically chanting “Wise are his ways” as a salute whenever his name is mentioned. But that portrayal goes contrary to everything Milton’s poem depicts…
Luckily, the play is blessed with fine performances from the entire cast, with Peacock’s wry, unsavoury talkshow host-like Satan a particular standout.”
“Paradise Lost, Erin Shields’ sprawling and startling new play premiering at Stratford, adapts and wrestles with the epic by John Milton – and immediately places this magnetic devil on stage to set the audience’s moral compass spinning…
Paradise Lost is not just philosophical – it’s fun, too, and a large, talented ensemble helps make it so. (Sarah Dodd, in particular, has a heck of a time as Sin, trashy with a visible thong.) But it’s Peacock that gives us – as she also does as Volumnia in Robert Lepage’s Coriolanus at the Avon, and in so many other Stratford Festival shows over the seasons – that moment of edge-skirting acting that stays with you at the end, and makes you feel electricity in your brain even as you remember it after.”
“Many plays, in theory, try to implicate the audience in their plots, usually asking us to identify with their moral ambiguity. But Paradise Lost is the most effective production at the festival, not only through Shield’s script but Maxwell’s direction. The house lights are up, Peacock is magnetizing and Shields gives her words that are at once timeless and etched into this very time and place. Social media, Trump, climate change, these are our trigger words to listen up. She might be Satan, but at least she gets it, right? Let’s hear her out.”
“…playwright Erin Shields managed to infuse enough levity and humour into her work to keep the audience laughing as we considered the very nature of what is good, what is evil, and what lies in between.
Of course, much of that humour comes from Satan herself, as she coyly shares instances of dramatic irony with the audience. Seemingly, she is the only character who knows of the fourth wall’s existence, playfully breaking it down and building it up again and again.”