Ovid’s Metamorphoses Warehouse Theatre Croydon 19 September

*** 

Theseus trapped in the labyrinth of his own mind: picture from guardian.co.uk

 

This show comprised a run-through in WWII era dress of Ovid’s Metamorphoses done in cabaret or devised show style.  So after some preliminary intoning and back-projection about primeval chaos and the creation of gods, men, the earth etc from it there followed the stories of Tiresias, Daphne, Io, Echo and perhaps others I don’t remember.  There was certainly a lot of theatrical ingenuity on display amongst the moving screens, as shown by this puppet Cupid, who was very popular with the audience: 

Climbing Cupid (from Pants on Fire FB site)

 

After the interval, things became rather more connected and so (in my view) better.  The story of Narcissus was very nicely done with him looking at himself in a back-projection in place of a mirror or a pool, and ended with a very nice picture of a narcissus. 

Pretty narcissus (from PoF FB site)

 

Then the episode of Theseus (of Minotaur fame) as an officer in a coma drooled over echolalaically by a chorus of nurses was the best and most sustained of the show, and at the end Ariadne got to sing ‘Am I blue?’–a real song.  The gasmasked and horned Minotaur made good use of the WWII setting, as did the gasmasked Io-turned-into-a-cow earlier on.  Actually the original song that Io got to sing was pretty good too… 

And at the end Tiresias prophesied war–war between man and nature–the metamorphosis of everything into chaos. 

As for the performers, they were all very good!  Perhaps Jo Dockery (who got to spend a lot of the time in playing the same character–Juno) and Eloise Secker (who got to sing a ‘proper’ song as Ariadne) made the most impression. 

It’s worthwhile having a look at the photos on the Pants on Fire Facebook site, which give an idea of the fantastic amount of invention that must have gone into this show–unfortunately it was slightly wasted on me because the stories as presented here weren’t very dramatic and I was discouraged by the drabness of the WWII-style setting.  (See that I’m not mentioning the drabness of the Warehouse Theatre or the smell of drains.) 

Given that the show itself is pretty short (90 minutes including a 15-minute interval) and so are the separate episodes, I think it would make an excellent outing for anyone with a fee-paying/independent/public/private school not too far from Croydon.

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