On Friday December 16th – in just over a week’s time – we’ll be hosting this awe-inspiring show from Peter Oswald and Howard Gayton of Foxhole Theatre, who will be performing as part of the Hedgespoken Winter Showcase at Dartington.

The Showcase brings together four amazing theatre companies for four nights of extraordinary performances. We’ve been writing about them all over the past few days. If you’re in Devon, or can get there soon, I can only recommend that you avail yourself of the ridiculously cheap tickets and superb bargain offers and join us in the warm, splendidly-festooned Hedgespoken tent – tickets are on sale now, here, where you can also find more details about the offers.


I woke up early with the birds
to hand up sturdy planks of words
to my speech-slave, my tongue, to build
echoing halls of praise, light-filled….

A Viking poet from Iceland sails around the North Sea, fighting, escaping, and delivering unforgivable insults in thunderous verse. Egil is the greatest of the Viking poets, and his adventures and poetry are recorded in one of the greatest Icelandic sagas. Peter Oswald performs his version written in English rhyming verse; it’s in three parts, of twenty minutes each. He performed the first part at Shakespeare’s Globe and York Minster – now he performs all three, from Egil’s close shave at York with Erik Bloodaxe, to his mad preposterous end in the bogs of Iceland.


Peter Oswald was recently awarded a travelling scholarship by the Society of Authors, who wrote ‘The astonishing Peter Oswald…. his subtle, layered story-telling and dazzling use of language mark him out.’ Howard will accompany Egil with electric guitar, mandolin and percussion.

What they’re saying about Egil:

Warrior, berserker, grieving father, carouser, irascible old man, inspired poet;  these are roles that Egil Skallagrimsson, Viking poet of Iceland, played throughout his life, and, in portraying Egil, as well as narrating his story, writer/actor Peter Oswald inhabits them all.

The piece is performed by Oswald, with musical accompaniment by Howard Gayton, who plays an electric guitar, a kazoo, and a mandolin among others, as well as often simply tapping on the guitar’s amp to create a deep, rhythmic beat, all of which adds to the audience’s immersion. Gayton’s variety ensures he always complements the tone of Oswald’s words, and brings an extra weight to moments that could otherwise lose momentum; his tender mandolin playing at the death of Egil’s son is a particular highlight.

Oswald, a superb physical actor, is always highly engaging, without letting his acting become distracting. During every story, there is a moment where the lights dim, and Oswald picks up a microphone to sing/speak a section of Egil’s own work, while Gayton strums his guitar…

Of course, in a production about the great poet of his day, written and performed by a well-respected poet of today, it is the words that must take centre stage, and Oswald’s outstanding re-telling flows perfectly in the cadences and rhythms of the old sagas.
Ben Miller-Jarvest, The Reviews Hub



To read more on the blog about the other shows we’re doing as part of this year’s Winter Showcase , you can find them all here!


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