Liam Rudden: Elephant on the stage of the 2014 EIF

Ganesh Versus The Third Reich. Picture: Comp
Ganesh Versus The Third Reich. Picture: Comp
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THE 2014 Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) was launched yesterday, boasting a predictable mix of high art, accessible theatre and the odd piece that, well, chances are, no one would ever have predicted - I’m thinking of the image of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god, challenging Hitler over his use of the swastika.

But more on that later.

Much like the Fringe, the EIF is an eclectic beast, so it’s always worth reading up on the show that catches your eye. That way you avoid any ‘artistic’ surprises.

Les Troyens, for example, an opera sung in French by a Russian company is sure to add spectacle to this year’s event, but it’s also five and a half hours long, and comes complete with a supper break, which I’m sure for many will transform into the chance to have a wine or two at the bar. If not to escape.

I have never been convinced that these epic productions (lengthwise not staging-wise) serve any great purpose other than to massage the egos of the company involved. An exercise in self-indulgence, no less.

Not for me, then, Les Troyens, but don’t let that put you off... you might just love it.

I am looking forward to Rona Munro’s James Plays, however. A trilogy of works produced by the National Theatre of Scotland, starring Taggart’s Blythe Duff and The Killing’s Sofie Grabol - both names guaranteed to attract the casual theatre-goer.

With James McArdle, Andrew Rothney and Jamie Sives as the three kings, they have strong support. Or should that be the other way around.

Finally, back to the elephantine god. The play Ganesh Versus the Third Reich tells the story of Ganesh’s attempt to reclaim the swastika from Nazi Germany, performed by an ensemble of actors with disabilities.

I have a sneaking suspicion it could be a surprise hit of Festival 2014.