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Simon Armitage on rewriting Homer: Lily Cole's Helen 'is an Iraqi supergun'

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His play The Last Days of Troy stars a supermodel, explores Iraq and considers the sexual excitement of war. It's a risk worth taking, says Simon Armitage

In the poet Simon Armitage's new play, The Last Days of Troy, the supermodel turned actor Lily Cole plays a weapon of mass destruction. Rather, she plays the beautiful Helen of Troy, who humiliates her husband, King Menelaus, and deserts Greece for Troy in the company of Paris.

"Helen is an Iraqi supergun or the 45-minute claim. She is, ostensibly, the reason why the Greeks go to war but she is not the reason," says Armitage, who suggests: "This is very much a play in which sex and war are interchangeable. I think there is a sexual excitement in war for some men."

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