Jason and The Argonauts (Yeovil)
Kris Hallett finds a "lack of playful energy" in the Courtyard's new version of this classic myth
Jason and his quest to find the Golden Fleece with his band of Argonauts has inspired countless works of art ever since it found its origins in the myths of Ancient Greece.
Here, in the Courtyard's Hereford work-man like version for all the family, our hero Jason (Gareth Warren) finds himself accompanied by arguably the most (in)famous of the Argonauts: Madeleine MacMahon's Medea, Ben Harrison's guitar wielding Orpheus and the strongest man in the universe, Hercules (Matthew Neal), on an adventure which takes in crashing rocks that threaten to derail our hero's ship, a skeleton army rising from the dead and a climatic sword fight.
With its larger then life mythic heroes and Boy's Own adventures, it would appear to be the genesis for a terrific family entertainment. It's unfortunate that what followed doesn't live up to its promise.
Sensibly played out on Alicia Fowle's basic set, consisting of four wooden blocks which are used to symbolise scenes including market squares, a palace and the hero's ship, this adventure fails to ignite, leaving the mostly young audience fidgeting in their seats. Its use of storytelling conventions is a good one and this simplicity is its strongest point. When the production takes off, such as a boxing match with inspired placards signifying the blows held aloft, it is a reminder of what could have been. However, there aren't enough of these good ideas in Mark Williams' book or in David Durant's pedestrian staging. Too many scenes are played relatively straight when what is called for is gleeful irreverence.
The lack of playful energy in production also trickles down into the performers. Warren makes a likeable protagonist and is the only one of the quartet not required to take on multiple roles. The others struggle to differentiate between their key characters and the others they portray.
A distorted and occasionally out of sync sound score summed up the production for me. While it has promise, it requires more fun and a firmer hand to deliver on its promise.
- Kris Hallett