Jason and the Argonauts review at Unicorn Theatre, London – ‘part gig, part video game’
There are two main questions to be asked when staging Greek mythology for a contemporary audience: what to do about the gods and whether or not to have a chorus. In Jason and the Argonauts Dancing Brick’s Thomas Eccleshare and Valentina Ceschi have found inspired, if not always straightforward, solutions to both of these.
They use the story as a way of exploring what it means to be a hero today. Dorian Simpson’s Jason is an easy-going, reggae-listening, McDonald’s-loving antidote to the classic adventurer type, while his team of Argonauts include a nerd, a bard and a tomboy, among others. All of the characters are framed as protagonists of a video game played by Hera and Zeus. This creates a distinctive style for the performance but doesn’t allow these modern day heroes much in the way of agency.
On the other hand, the company have deployed a multitude of impressive ways to communicate the lively and infectious ensemble spirit that underlies the quest as a whole. The four-strong cast, including the multitasking musician Dylan Townley, deliver a remarkably slick, energetic and colourful production, wittily concluding that Jason and the Argonauts might simply have been a rock band for their time.
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