Ovid’s Metamorphoses

5 Stars

*****

The work of an obscure ancient Roman poet as a title might be off-putting but Pants on Fire’s production is very funny, ingeniously presented and impressively performed. On entering the auditorium it does appear somewhat odd that the cast are dressed in World War 2 costumes. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the setting is very appropriate since Ovid’s stories emphasise chaos, heroes and monsters. Isn’t any time of war going to exhibit these concepts and World War 2 in particular? The play also does have its serious moments.

The show romps through the pantheon of Roman gods and goddesses with sketches, music, songs, choreographed movement, puppetry and film sequences. The set includes a series of movable panels, white on one side and black on the other. These are constantly on the move as each scene flows into the next, keeping the action continuous. It is amazing to realise that there is a cast of only 7 performers!

It is impossible to keep track of all the scenes and all the characters portrayed but here is a selection of just a few of my favourites. Jupiter and Juno are played as a quarrelsome upper class couple due to Jupiter’s repeated philandering; Cupid in puppet form is depicted as a mischievous schoolboy; and Narcissus as a movie star in a film trailer which catches the mood of the 1940’s.

With all that is going on, it can be confusing but I just sat back and enjoyed the journey. Director Peter Bramley must have had nightmares with the massive number of cues that are necessary but I didn’t detect one piece of missed timing which really is a triumph for all concerned. It really is a team effort and all the cast are excellent – Jonathan Davenport, Jo Dockery, Alex Packer, Hannah Pierce, Eloise Secker, Mike Slader and Samantha Sutherland.

One final point, a most informative programme is handed out before the play begins.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Dome/King Dome: 23

19 to 29 August 2011

12.15 – 13.35

Fringe Programme Page Number: 287

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