Jason and the Argonauts

This accomplished piece of theatre from Bristol Old Vic’s Theatre School is beautifully acted, wonderfully imaginative and excellently produced. A retelling of the classic Jason and the Argonauts, this theatre company have used Greek mythology as a basis to shine a light on our current immigration crisis. What could easily have been heavy-handed and trite is instead poignant and original.

The imagination of this company can only be seen to be believed

The execution of the transposition into a modern day social issue was excellent. It is so rare to see theatre that successfully manages to do this without it feeling awfully contrived. Their adaptation is subtle but consistent, making realistic comparisons to the modern day through the language and the narrative of Jason and the Argonauts. At no point do they swing wildly into the modern day, or crash back to the original text. It made sense.

The cast themselves all shine in equal measure, with the arc of the 45-minute show giving them each a chance to take a lead moving the story along. As a show billed for children, they certainly deliver the high-octane energy needed for kid’s entertainment, despite the performance time being eye-wateringly early.

What takes this performance from the pleasant to the impressive is the visuals: physicality, their use of the stage and props and their commitment to the thrust. They create the sound effects ‘a capella’ either with their voices or with the discarded trash lying scattered across the stage. Whoever imagined the movement choreography for this performance must be commended: it is sublime. Their reenactment of the Hydra is fantastic, using imagination to the maximum. I was simply blown away by those elements. The sub-musical elements, the blend of singing and spoken word, are also magical.

My only criticism of this show is the pitching. It is aimed at children and it certainly a little too simple for teens and above, but I worry that the language would go over the heads of younger children. It feels like it could have been substantially improved for the genre by simplifying the vocabulary and using less words, more slowly and clearly. Even I lost bits of the dialogue where it was a little rushed and not enunciated well enough.

Yet this criticism aside, I’m not sure you’re going to find something better to watch at this hour. The imagination of this company can only be seen to be believed. 

Reviews by Millie Bayswater

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Performances

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The Blurb

Trapped in a refugee camp outside the city of Iolcus, Jason assembles a crew of misfits and outcasts to battle his way across the seas in search of the Golden Fleece of Phrixus; his passport into his homeland. Join us for an action-packed quest which will throw our hero into a world of wood nymphs, metal giants and skeleton armies! This modern interpretation of the classic Greek myth is a collaborative piece of storytelling from Take Thou That. With themes of social injustice, the refugee crisis and identity, the piece speaks to adults and children alike.

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