"Oedipus Rex plays competitive darts"
by Avril Silk for remotegoat on 21/05/17

Somerset’s home-grown Wassail Theatre Company is delighting rural communities with memorable theatre that surprises and dazzles. Their current play, writer Will Gore’s ‘Rex the King’, is the second in a trilogy inspired by sport. The first, ‘The Giants’ celebrated Yeovil Town FC. The third play will be set in the world of cricket. Meanwhile ‘Rex the King’ is a stunning juxtaposition of Greek tragedy and the world of darts.

On the first date of their tour, Wassail took my home village by storm. The weather was a great deal kinder than we feared; a fine barbeque, well-stocked bar and a quirky mini-skittles match set the tone for an evening which led one appreciative audience member to say, ‘Quality theatre comes to the sticks!’ Several newcomers to the village were truly impressed that a small village hall in the middle of nowhere could host such excellent work. For seventeen years Ashbrittle Arts has been ensuring that professional arts events happen at the heart of our community. Working with Wassail continued that tradition in fine style.

Three versatile, talented performers reveal a world of driving ambition, cutthroat competition, and over-weening hubris with its inevitable downfall, using live music, dry wit, local references and popular culture. James Peake plays Rex with passion and conviction, leading us step by step through youthful cockiness; jaded success; awful realisation as ruin approaches; heartfelt repentance and atonement. Musical Director Greg Hall’s varied compositions add depth and eloquence to a fine script - plus he plays five parts, including Disco Dennis. Bronya Deutsch takes on seven beautifully observed and diverse roles with unflagging energy, delineating each one with deft assurance.

Zoe Squire’s well-considered costume designs and ingenious set allow for lightning changes that conjure up a host of characters and a wealth of locations, enhancing the actors’ skill as they bring this ancient tragedy smack bang up to date.

Although I knew full well that a terrible fate awaited our hero, I was so beguiled by the banter and songs (not to mention the useful darts tutorial!) that I was shocked and devastated when the play reached its bloody climax. The moment of reckoning was swift and brutal and James Peake fully conveyed the horror and loss of the hero’s fall from grace.

Director Tim Bell and Producer Nick White can be justly proud of this production. Find out more about this tour and Wassail’s other work on www.wassailtheatre.co.uk During May and June, ‘Rex the King’ is appearing at over a dozen venues in Somerset, from pubs to theatres to village halls. Try to catch a show. You won’t be disappointed.

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