This unusual play, which also contains music and dance, is performed by Pegasus Youth Theatre and its dance company.

Gilgamesh lived around 2700 BC. He was king of Uruk, and he was two parts god, one part human.

Jenny Lewis links the ancient story of his life with the experiences of a wounded officer in modern Iraq, as both the god-king and the contemporary warrior learn to cope with the loss of a close friend. I asked her how she came to write this ambitious work.

“I was researching my father’s part in the Mesopotamian campaign in the First World War, because my sister and I found an album of photographs of him in Basra. This was at the time when Tony Blair had taken us into Basra, and I just thought I have to research this, because my father died when I was just a couple of months old.

“At the Imperial War Museum I came across The Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s amazing, and it’s the oldest piece of written literature in the world.”

The poem is extremely long, and covers many events, and I asked Jenny to give me the gist of its story.

“Basically it’s about the importance of leadership, and how leaders shouldn’t abuse power. Gilgamesh is a tyrant; he enslaves his people, rapes girls on their wedding night and behaves atrociously, as a lot of despots in the world still do today.

“So, the gods create a wild man, Enkidu, who is the king’s equal in strength. He lives in the wilderness among the gazelles and bears. Gilgamesh fears that Enkidu will overpower him.

“They have this huge gladiatorial fight, and it’s all terribly macho, and eventually Gilgamesh acknowledges Enkidu as his equal, and they become great friends.

“They go on adventures, seeking fame and glory. Then Enkidu is killed, and everything changes, because Gilgamesh can’t bear the grief, so he wanders in the wilderness for months.

“He realises now that he can’t fulfil his dream of living forever. He has to accept his own mortality, which we all have to do, and that’s a very important aspect of the play.

“Then Gilgamesh meets a wise women who says ‘go home, enjoy your life, take your children by the hand, embrace your wife as often as you can, and just enjoy as much time as you have left’.”

Linked with this is the modern story of Captain Robbie Roberts, who, lying wounded in hospital, flits between his life as an active soldier in Iraq and the old world of Mesopotamia.

This is all complex and emotional stuff, and I asked the play’s director, Yasmin Sidhwa, how the young cast has set about putting it over.

“We have 16 actors and 12 dancers, and they’re working to make it a united piece, so the actors dance, the dancers sing and do a little bit of acting. That cast is brilliant. They’re aged 14 to 19, and not only have we got the Pegasus Youth Theatre and Dance Company, but the show is being designed by the production company, so it’s 14 to 19-year-olds doing all of it, and they’re really going for it.

“We did a lot of role-play to begin with, and looked at the parallels between Ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq. The play is saying, ‘what’s changed in 4,000 years? We’re still going to war’.

The actors played soldiers, and also Iraqi civilians; we blindfolded them, we did a lot of method to get them to feel what it might be like.”

With lots of music and dance, the play takes us from the battlefields, palaces and market-places of the ancient world, to the soldiers, generals and citizens engaged in the recent Iraq war After Gilgamesh is at the Pegasus Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday next week.