|"Mythology with a Modern Message"|
by Cheryl Rowlands for remotegoat on 13/02/17
The final performance of this production at the Redgrave Theatre followed a successful tour of local primary schools. Jason and the Argonauts is one of my favourite classic films and I was really looking forward to seeing how it would be transferred from screen to stage. Rather a traditionalist, I like to see productions in original costume, so to see the modern set with garden chairs, a chain fence, modern signs and oil drums and the cast in present-day outfits was a little disappointing. However, all was soon revealed once the social and political social themes which ran through the production became clear with present-day issues such as the migrant crisis, transgender issues, discrimination and how we are all equal and should be treated with respect featuring through the characters’ personal stories.
This was a Saturday morning performance, which played to practically a full house, with wonderful support shown by many of the casts’ family and friends. In all, there were two groups of performers (the Red Team & the Blue Team). We were watching the performance of the Blue team made up of Anna Munden, Emma Prendergast, Liyah Summers, Taheen Modak, Jyuddah Muzahura, James Schofield, and Charlie Suff.
With the exception of Jason, played to great effect by Jyuddah Muzahura six other cast members played several different roles between them together with various different accents.
The characterisation of the Harpies was excellent and every actor’s nightmare comes when props do not behave as they should! Well handled!
There were many children in the audience for whom I felt lot of the political meaning would go over their heads, however it held their attention throughout and was well received by the audience as a whole, together with the comedy and one-liners which ran through the show, such as the comment the Guard (played by Taheen Modak) makes to Jason when demanding that the Golden Fleece be retrieved and returned before Jason will be allowed to cross the border. When asked why, the Guard remarked: “I know. Bureaucracy – it’s a nightmare!”
I had been particularly interested in how the Skeletal Warriors, grown from Hydra’s teeth would be staged, and was not disappointed. This was the best part of the show for me and I loved the formation of the skeletons and the fight scene, which was brilliantly choreographed to Motorhead’s Ace of Spades”. The audience were encouraged to clap along by Jason as he heroically fought and defeated the skeletons. Absolutely brilliant.
Very clever use of the set, which was changed around and adapted for each scene by the cast as the action was in progress allowing for continuous scenes throughout. There was no interval – the action played continuously.
My overall favourite character was Charlie Suff’s comic portrayal. He was so funny and he received the most laughs. His accent and manner were wonderfully comedic. A great characterisation.
I felt that the ending was slightly unclear, leaving the audience momentarily confused as to whether to applaud or not, however, this is very much a minor point in what was a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining and informative production.
As we were leaving, a little girl in front of me, aged about five, turned to her father and said: “My favourite was Jason”, which I thought was rather sweet, whilst also giving an indication that the children in the audience enjoyed the production as much as the adults. A job well done.
The cast are hoping to take the production to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and a funding campaign is under way to help them get there. If you would like to donate towards this venture, you can access the Funding Page at the following link address: https://www.gofundme.com/jasonandtheargonauts
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