Yorgjin Oxo – The Man review at Theatre 503 London
Theatre 503 must be one of the few places in the UK that would take a chance on a play like this.
Set in a world much like our own but inhabited by marshlanders who want to squelch in the mud, firmlanders who want to oppress and enslave the innocent marshlanders, and warrior mice who want to fight and whose speaking parts are dubbed by the other actors, this play is wilfully bizarre.
Five minutes into the production, which is staged in and around the audience, seated on an assortment of hessian sacks stuffed with hay, I was ready to leave.
Yet by the end, the beautiful strangeness of the piece had completely won me over, aided by a quite outstanding central performance by Tom Hiddleston as the innocent hero Yorgjin.
Owing much in its anti-church stance (and the talking mice) to the recent adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Yorgjin Oxo tells the story of an innocent boy playing in the marshes and “smiling into the rain” as he turns first into a slave forced to build a cathedral for his oppressors and finally into a suicide terrorist.
While I’m sure that the play might not be to everybody’s tastes, the imaginative power behind it cannot be doubted. Nor can the quality of the staging, which makes wonderful use of what has typically been a fairly inflexible space.
It may be a little strange for some tastes but for me this play was a gamble that paid off quite magnificently.
Theatre 503, London, December 7-23
- Thomas Crowe
- Alex Clifton
- Theatre 503, Pursued By aa Bear
- Tom Hiddleston, Kate Donmall, Darri Ingolfsson, Denis Quilligan, Sean Carrigan
- Running time