Fire and the Rose faces up to the more harrowing articles of the human condition. George Innes stands alone to recite his careful selection of the finest poetry, sampling from Milton, Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot in such a way as to give us a narrative concerning trials of mankind.The production is very much the personal dwellings of the man who has compiled the poetry. As these poems have been selected, chopped and re-assigned they no longer carry the full meanings and intentions of the original poets, even if the main body of their ideas remain. Instead it has become Mr. Innes’ perspective and description of man’s struggle. He has left the words to lend power to the production with little need for the conventions of theatre to assist his performance. If a light needed changing he glided backstage to do it himself and as I walked into the space, the only person there, he mused distractedly about the show to come while humming his lines and waiting to dim the lights.The poetry begins in the dark with the opening lines of ‘Under the Milkwood.’ The feeling of isolation was daunting as the subject of the poetry was matched by the darkness, and a spectacular moment was achieved. As my eyes adjusted to the dark, the reader’s face grew out of the obscurity, impressive as he recited poetry on God and the creation. It fit his stage presence magnificently. His wizened face and white beard allowed him to impose the many images of divinity which the poems related, appearing alternately as the daunting creator and as a fatherly guide. His voice was simply superb. Each word was toned perfectly, having its place and precise intonation. Such a voice has to come naturally and cannot be forced: it is the result of years of training. I would have enjoyed listening to the voice even if there were no substance behind the words. Seeing as the poetry is amongst the finest in existence there was also plenty of substance to be enjoyed. A problem did lie in the fact that the original compilation of poetry had to be trimmed down by an hour to fit the time slot. As a result the full tapestry which George Innes had tried to construct in order to convey man’s condition could not be achieved. Moments of overt beauty and comedy had to be lost and the show was left as a straight-edged narrative dwelling on poetic interpretations of the creation and the fall of man from Eden. As a result much balance is lost and what is left is rather formidable. Straight after the poems that deal with the fall of man we are given a relentless narrative about Hiroshima by John Haley. Religious aspects and horrific detailing pinned me to the chair and forced me to confront one of the single most horrific acts of humanity, which I usually prefer to block out of my mind. After this the performance wound down, in the wake of the corpus of fear and destruction, it finally left a sober image of hope for humanity with the promise of Dylan Thomas’ green hills. The performance manages to avoid simply being a poetry reading. It is a production that is extremely personal to the reader but still manages to relate to anyone. While it lacks the balance to evoke a dichotomy of the human condition it still relates a haunting reflection upon the darkest fears and memories of our wretched little existence.