Jason and the Argonauts is a reinvention of the classic Greek myth set out as a video game in which the Gods select Jason to take on their challenges and find the Golden Fleece.
Reviewing a show intended for 6 to 12 year olds was definitely an odd one. On the one hand it definitely wasn’t my idea of a fun night, but on the other I can see that if you were a member of this target audience there would definitely have been a lot to keep you amused. Poop fell from the ceiling and actors shook their bums causing immeasurable amusement amongst the overwhelmingly young audience.
James Button’s set design is the show’s greatest asset. I found myself being constantly impressed by its diversity and creativity as it transported us from dark dungeons to stormy seas. Four ladders erupt from the stage to allow the actors to fly up high, fix masts and even create a sleeping quarters for the Argonauts. Adorning the back of the stage is a mast created from football shirts representing the team on board Jason’s ship.
Also impressive was the diversity of Jason and the Argonauts’ cast, which included an amputee Hercules along with a variety of accents and ethnicities. This was refreshing to see in a time when casting can seem at times quite exclusive, and a wonderful way to teach the next generation what theatre should be like.
The cast themselves were fantastic, telling the story in a very engaging way. I did at times get slightly lost about where characters had ended up and if they were dead or alive, most notably towards the end where two of the heroes appeared to have been involved in a fatal flying accident, but then turned up again later on. Dylan Townley was a definite stand out as the loveable Orpheus, transformed for this version into a keen young musician who’s new single eventually saves the day.
Jason and the Argonauts’ dialogue, though simplistic and easy to grasp, was at times quite cringey. It was very definitely geared to the younger audience members – understandably – but it would’ve been nice to also have another layer to keep the parents (who pay and take the kids to the theatre) amused.
To be fair to the show, it is aimed at children and makes no claims for this not being the case. If you took your younger relative to see the show I’m sure you’d be very popular, however I’m not sure that Jason and the Argonauts has the universal appeal to entertain both adults and children at equal measure.
Jason and the Argonauts is playing the Unicorn Theatre until 20 October 2016. For more information and tickets, see Unicorn Theatre website.