(National Theatre, London, until 9 December 2012)
Venice, 1571. The Serenissima, at the head of the Holy League, has defeated the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Lepanto and the great Republic turns to the artist Galactia (Fiona Shaw) to immortalise the victory in an immense canvas. They are taking a risk: outspoken, liberal Galactia is no state catspaw. Sickened by the slaughter at Lepanto, she decides to turn the triumphalist canvas into a seething denunciation of war: a tumult of flesh and violence, blood and severed limbs. This will be no vision of Christian victory, but an accurate representation of a battle whose rate of slaughter wouldn’t be equalled until the First World War.