In the 17th century, John Milton published his ten-book epic, which recounts the fall of Satan, the creation of the world, and the fall of Adam and Eve. Its influence has trickled down through the centuries, into the different strata of art. The epic was well adapted; presenting the most interesting and dramatic parts of Milton’s poetry. The language is stunning, and in this performance is given the respect and clarity of delivery it deserves. Van Dyck does a commendable job of playing all parts, although he perhaps lacks some of the charisma and attraction Milton established in the Satan of Book I. However, towards the conclusion of the performance Van Dyck began to discover a more attractive side to Satan the dictator who is so alluring on the page.
The final montage of this adaptation, as God forces Adam to look at the postlapsarian future of mankind, highlights how prophetic Milton’s writing was, and emphasises the sheer predictability of mankind, trapped in a continual cycle of violence and disobedience. The use of graphics in the representation of Sin and Death was perhaps slightly gimmicky, and limited the potentially to create fully formed, compelling characters. However, the use of puppetry was very sensitive and successful, and Van Dyck manages to extract a lot of humour and pathos out of such an expansive, and some would argue, untameable text.