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The Charing Cross Theatre

Mythic. Rarely can such a wonderful little show have had such a rubbish title.

Still, it is what it is, and what it is, is 90 minutes of sexy, poignant, funny, moving, tuneful, brilliantly sung and acted, and seamlessly choreographed entertainment which doesn’t take its self too seriously, and works all the better for it.

We’re in the world of the gods and goddesses of Ancient Greece, so a little history…

As the programme notes…

‘At the Dawn the universe was one long party for the ancient gods, known as the Titans. But not for long. Their rebellious children overthrew them, calling themselves The Olympians’ (they ruled from Mount Olympus).

Chief amongst these was Zeus who ruled the heavens, Demeter who ruled the Earth, and Hades who ruled the Underworld.

Zeus fathered several dozen children, many as scheming and rebellious as he had been, including a daughter, Persephone, with his own sister Earth-goddess Demeter.

This is where our story begins…

Persephone (Georgia Westall) a rather restless child, has seen in one of her glossy magazines – this is a very up to date telling of the story – that Zeus and the other Olympians are having a high old time partying on Mount Olympus and, tired of helping her ‘Earth mother’ mother Demeter (Daniella Bowen) oversee the getting-in of the harvest and planting for the coming year, decides to head off and see for herself what fun can be had if you’re a god, of which she is one herself.

Arriving at the party, she meets up with the young Aphrodite (Genevieve McCarthy) her half sister/cousin, who takes her under her wing. However, having had something of a spat with her father Zeus (Tim Oxbrow), Aphrodite casts a spell on Persephone and her uncle the ‘bad boy of the gods’ Hades, causing them to fall in love.

Hades takes Persephone down into the underworld, and with his song, ‘Dark Damaged Soul’ Michael Mather’s brooding goth Hades injects the story with a healthy dollop of teen angst and sex appeal.

Unfortunately for Persephone, having travelled to the underworld, she has to remain there for the next six months…

Due to some plot convolutions which you’ll have to take my word for it, make sense in context, Persephone becomes a goth as well, and wants to stay with Hades. Frankly, it’s easy to see why, however her distraught mother follows her into the underworld at great personal cost, and everything becomes reconciled.

To be honest, as the action progressed, I thought this was a show about learning to let go of your children. I was a bit far of the mark, but you’ll have to see the show to know why…

As well as the principals it’s the attention to detail and characterisation of the subsidiary characters that make this glorious little show what it is, which is often laugh-out-loud hilarious. There’s a great turn from Ben Welch as Charon, the boatman taking people across the Styx, and Leo Sene as one of the gardeners in hell (did you know there were?) is a hoot with his wheelbarrow.

If I have one very minor criticism, it’s that I’d have liked to see more diversity of time-signature in the score. Hades song is the first in a compound time signature, and it’s the seventh song in. Still, the score works, and is at time glorious. Demeter’s ‘Look to the Sky’ being a beautiful evocation of a mother dealing with grief, beautifully rendered by Daniella Bowen.

This is a show which is not only far better, on every level, but infinitely more entertaining than the title would suggest. Go see…

  • Musical
  • Director/Choreographer: Sarah O’Gleby
  • Book & Lyrics: Marcus Stevens
  • Music: Oran Elder
  • Cast includes: Daniella Bowen, Courtney Brogan-Smalley, Eloise Davies, Ben Lancaster, Michael Mather, Jane Marvin, Genevieve McCarthy, Tim Oxbrow, James Ross, Leo Sene, Ben Welch, Georgie Westall.
  • The Charing Cross Theatre
  • Until 24 October 2018
  • Time: 19:30 (Wed matinee 2.30pm Sat matinee 3pm)

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