For the pantomime season – Alcestis?

When you come to think of it, Euripides’ Alcestis could be the basis for a very good pantomime. Simple and affecting story; lots of music; contrast between comic and ‘straight’ characters; the ultimate Villain – Death.

Not sure about the Principal Boy, though, or the Dame. Admetus is no hero, so he couldn’t be Principal Boy. Heracles is the closest we get to the Dame, big, good-hearted ….

When we were putting on a shortened school production a learned Classicist pointed out to me that Alcestis dies twice, once in spoken dialogue and once in song.

These thoughts arise from news of a new book from OUP called ‘New Directions in Ancient Pantomime’ edited by Edith Hall and Rosie Wyles. OK, it’s a £75 hardback on a topic unlikely to come up in schools, so most of us won’t be asking for a copy in our Christmas stocking, but apparently it contains the translation of a possible Roman pantomime script known as the Barcelona Alcestis. Google isn’t terribly helpful about this, but there is a clue that it’s a text that has recently come to light. A paper hidden away from non-subscribers in JSTOR mentions that

new poetic discoveries are few: the Barcelona Alcestis, the new Gallus, the Epigrammata Bobiensia

Has anyone staged it?

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