National treasure, Stephen Fry brings his best-selling novel, ‘Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold’, to life. The tantalisingly dramatic mythology of the Greeks is full of gore, sex and life lessons. Fry has taken on the mammoth task of performing three different plays centred on different aspects of the mythology: the Gods, the heroes and the mortals. Today was an in-depth looks at the powerful yet flawed Gods and how the world began, ‘not with a bang but with chaos.’
Poetry and storytelling
Poetry and storytelling
The fundamentals of human existence – three quasi rituals, one fascinating show.
Fitch’s powerful opener was both energised and energising, in many ways a paradox: a manifesto of hope yet set in the midst of the apocalyptic. Their work, ‘Revelations’ took us to the uttermost extremities of the post-modern world and challenged the very values humankind had presupposed: “all gold is fool’s gold", “the drink that ends in thirst”. Throughout, the ‘poisoned, parched shrivelled earth’ is used as a metaphor for the human soul and spirit.
Birds of Paradise produced Purposeless Movements back in 2016 to address a specific medical description of CP: "Which of our movements are purposeless?" The production dives into what it means to be a man living with Cerebral Palsy. Four professional actors with varying intensity of the condition present their perspective in an open, funny and poignant manner.
A somewhat esoteric and quirky look at Nan Shepherd, this show focuses on the influences around Shepherd, inspiring her work and thought processes. Featuring a range of pop-up characters, this is an unusual introduction to Shepherd, interspersed with snippets from her writing.
Oxford-based, student-run Mercury Theatre in their most recent venture have decided to tackle male mental health with Numbers. All starts well, with the first scene focusing on Jack as he lists his achievements of which he is most proud. He speaks to empty chairs set up like a support group. This is the one and only time numbers are truly referenced in the play, as Jack counts how many beers he can down and how many bites it takes for him to swallow a Big Mac.
Myra is just as brutal and gut-punching as you would expect as Lauren Varnfield brings the fundamentally loathed Myra Hindley to the stage. Hindley aided the notorious Ian Brady to torture, rape and kill five children in a murder spree known as the ‘Moor Murders’. This piece is written, directed and performed by Varnfield, in an attempt to look inside the controversial mind. Is she a monster or a victim?
As the cast enter the space, they perform basic movement sequences and speak abstract sentences as they are ‘reflections’ of one another. Frank stands, and suddenly the dramatic style is dropped; a relief fills the room. Being Frank is a brutally personal journey into modern masculinity. Holden reveals how he struggled to put this idea to paper, that his mental health talked down every option. He manages an incredibly difficult display of honesty without crossing over into self-obsession, showing his pain without asking for sympathy or respect.
This is a charming show that provides Scottish storytelling aimed at children and adults. Some of the tales will be familiar, others may not, particularly to those not of Scottish origin.
Playing to a packed room, Dougie works well with the children in the audience, encouraging interaction from them in the stories that are told (adults are also encouraged of course). This seemed to be a popular option, which added to the laughter in the audience as the inventiveness of the children came to the fore.
Two characters, separated by time and space meet for the first time in the world-wide premiere of Alice and the Little Prince. Both beloved personas, each belonging to extraordinary tales which capture the imagination of children and represent deep, meaningful reflections of society, friendship and happiness for adults. It’s surprising that this premise isn’t performed more often as it works so well.
There are several suffragette-based productions this year: Peter Barratt, the great-grandson of Alice Hawkins, a woman who was an actively involved suffragette, presents this particular show. Inspired by tales of Alice and the discovery of a wealth of items from her suffragette experiences, Barratt presents an interesting talk, interspersed by performance pieces from Ruth Pownall as Hawkins.