Review: Mythic (Charing Cross Theatre)

Marcus Stevens and Oran Eldor’s new musical opens in London

Michael Mather (Hades)
Michael Mather (Hades)
© Marc Brenner

Life gets complicated for Greek gods too – especially when rebellious teenagers overthrow their parents' rule and turn the universe into one big Olympian rock and roll party.

Mythic is a new comedic pop/punk musical by Marcus Stevens and Oran Eldor, using the well-known story of goddess Persephone to explore complicated family dynamics.

Persephone's mother, Demeter (Daniella Bowen) has her heart set on her daughter taking over the family business. But Persephone (Georgie Westall) sees her mother (goddess of the earth) as nothing but a glorified gardener, and sneaks off to party with the Olympians instead. The musical relies on character tropes we're likely familiar with, such as the rebellious teen Persephone and her overprotective mother with a heart of gold; the sleazy father Zeus (Tim Oxbrow) who is more interested in debauchery than in raising his children and his scorned attention-seeking daughter Aphrodite (Genevieve McCarthy) and of course, the 'damaged' bad-boy Hades (Michael Mather).

Although such characters are, on the surface, stereotypes, the Greek story is overturned in an entertaining way, with most characters possessing just enough depth and emotional backstory for us to root for them – we empathise with Demeter's struggle to find her inner power and do 'what she's got to do' to protect her daughter, whilst we also understand how smothered Persephone feels. Even the elitist Olympians have dark histories, and both the nymphs and hellish undertakers have their own insecurities to deal with. However, it would serve well to pay a little more attention to Hades, whose sulking emo front seems to exist without any reason in particular.

It's an incredibly cohesive production, with enough references to ancient Greece to keep it grounded in parody – the music is uplifting and captures the party atmosphere of the reimagined Olympia really well. Each song feels like a chart-topping hit, from uplifting chorus number "It's a Myth" to rock n'roll headbangers and grunge anthems like "Dark Damaged Soul" and "Not a Chance in Hell". There are also more moving numbers, such as a duet between Persephone and Hades, and Demeter's solo "What Mothers Have to Do". Lee Newby's design places the Underworld workers in black boots, eyeliner and leather jackets, while Olympian nymphs are in flowing white shirts – just enough of a nod to the white tunics of Ancient Greece. White lace curtains hang down, marking the entrance to the heavenly Olympus.

Sarah O'Gleby's choreography is slick and lends itself well to the comedy – when we arrive in Hades' garden, for example, we're greeted by gardeners dancing with wheelbarrows brimming with pomegranates. Demeter's nymphs dance whilst balancing laurel bushes in their hands and Aphrodite has many solo dancing numbers to match her diva personality. However, towards the beginning of the show, where much of the action happens downstage and away from Olympia's gates, the dancing feels confined, as though there isn't enough space to contain the large cast. Later, when the gates are stripped away and the cast utilise the whole space, the dancing really takes on a life of its own.

It's a lively, humorous show, with a simple message about finding one's purpose, and letting your loved ones go, at its core.