OVID’S METAMORPHOSES: Pants on Fire: Pleasance Dome (Venue 23): 04 – 30 Aug 2010: 1200 hrs
0131 556 6550 www.pantsonfiretheatre.com
Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes no interval
Review: Mark Courtice 25th August 2010
Clever and funny stories cleverly and wittily told
In telling Ovid’s tales of Gods no better than they ought to be (and the unfortunate mortals they come into contact with), Pants on Fire sets the stories in the 1940s, and World War Two. As a young company, much of what they know of the period of clipped vowels and understatement comes from the Powell and Pressburger classic film A Matter of Life and Death.
It’s an inspired idea; it was a time (like Ovid’s) when things were a bit random. Wartime’s casual allocation of life and death as an everyday fact of life fits the stories. The film concerns a judgement of the Gods over the life of an airman – here the Gods seduce mortals and bicker amongst themselves. It helps that Ovid’s originals were so wise about human nature. Peter Bramley’s adaptation recognises this in letting the stories themselves create the theatre.
The show is brilliant at the business of story telling, the adaptation is just enormous fun. Imagination effects the transformations that the Gods were partial to, with apt uniforms and frocks. Moveable screens combine in all sorts of ways as the company create momentary images of operating theatres, plotting tables, and cow byres.
The gods and mortals are elegant and sexy (the Esther Williams style Salmacis is hard to forget), charming and fallible. If the central dysfunctional relationship between Jupiter and Juno is a bit perfunctory this is a consequence of the awkward running time. This show could either do with being longer to build on this, or shorter as in the end the constant invention begins to wear out.
Lucy Egger’s pastiche music is charming, apt and fun to listen to. It is given a really good account by the ensemble company.
This is a show that reminds you how funny and accurate Ovid’s tales are in anatomising human greed and lust, but it also makes you glad that theatre is here to celebrate them and that the next generation of theatre makers have the imagination and ability to do it in such style.
Jupiter/Perseus/Daedalus/Doctor Johnathan Davenport
Cupid/Io/Nurse/Semele Mabel Jones
Apollo/Narcissus/Minotaur/Icarus Joseph Mann
Tiresias/Hermaphroditus/Io’s Father/Atlas/Theseus Alex Packer
Tiresias/Echo/Argus/Nurse/Andromeda Hannah Pierce
Daphne/Mercury/Medusa/Ariadne Eloise Secker
Lighting Design: Ralph Stokeld
Stage Adaptation: Peter Bramley
Music: Lucy Egger
Director and Designer: Peter Bramley