Metamorphoses, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre – The Vault
***** (5 stars)
Wow. I was blown away. This youth theatre group have taken Ovid’s ancient rambling tale and made it into a story so engaging and entertaining that Greek Mythology suddenly seems terribly relevant again. Don’t get me wrong, I like Greek mythology anyway, but this company’s skill, energy and passion seemed to bring to life the power of the ancient Greek myths in a way that was inspiring to behold.
The basic outlay of the plot is an adaptation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses: Tiresias, a blind prophet, sits at the entrance to the underworld talking to a boy who has just come in, between them they weave together various Greek myths and legends in an attempt to find out the boys true story. From the start of this play, there is a level of attention to detail that draws the audience into this ‘underworld’. On entering the theatre our senses are all assaulted, as we are greeted with the smell of incense (a very clever and simple effect), the sound of Tiresias snoring and the sight of the Vaults: the perfect location for this play.
The cast of eight, stayed on stage for the entire performance (an impressive feat in itself) as they all played various characters, changing their identities with slow motion slight costume changes that were always subtle and within the style of the creepy underworld. This effect made excellent use of the props, that all stood hanging on a couple of hat stands towards the back of the stage. When they weren’t playing a character the actors stood to the back filling in voices, parts and generally looking underworldly.
The acting was excellent, although the stand out actor had to be the man who plays Tiresias (unfortunately the programme doesn’t tell me who played which part so I cannot mention this gentleman by name). His portrayal of Tiresias was spot on and his ability to swap between endearing, funny prophet, and quite frankly terrifying and sinister was very impressive.
The excellence of this adaptation was the clear way in which it took us between Greek myths whilst retaining a sense of structure. Such an effect reflects the complexity and inter-dependency of Greek Mythology very well. What was an impressive feat on the part of the actors though was the ability to switch between the moods of each of these stories. We moved from funny to tragic, back to silly when the Gods came into play and then into the utterly shocking and grotesque towards the end. Entertaining and funny this play might be but it is certainly not for the faint hearted. The shock effect was administered with a slight hand, but when administered it packed a heavy punch. In the midst of the comedy this served as a reminder that Greek Mythology can be shocking, gruesome and ruthless.
This is a must see if you like Greek Mythology or even just a good story.
The Vault, runs until the 28th August, 3.45pm. £8/£6