Writer: Charles Way
Director: Hal Chambers
Reviewer: Paul Couch
Other than perhaps Beowulf, tales from antiquity don’t come much more epic than Ragnarok, the End of Days for the gods and mythical beings of Asgard.
In Charlie Wray’s re-imagining for Eastern Angles, Thor, Loki the Trickster, and Odin All-Father are all present and correct but expect no Marvel Studios special effects – this treatment is earthier and more faithful to the original Norse mythology upon which it’s based.
The Hush House at the former Cold War base at RAF Bentwatersisn’t the easiest of places to reach and previous Eastern Angles productions have perhaps gotten a bit lost in its yawning interior but, if you’re going to do a classical blockbuster like Ragnarok, that’s the place to do it.
The journey out there is worth the effort for director Hal Chambers has delivered a competent and enjoyable few hours of theatre, a brave and refreshing change of direction for the Ipswich-based company.
Ragnarok is a series of stories leading up to the catastrophic battle in which many of the gods of Asgard will perish. The actual conflict itself takes up but a few minutes at the finale, but the events that catalyse it are complex and tangled from the get-go.
As far as performances go, it’s a pretty consistent line-up. Antony Gabriel makes for a robust and compelling Odin, while Theo Ogundipe’s Thor wields Mjölnirwith a kind of scruffy-chic panache and ferocity. Thor’s half-brother, the Asgardian poster-boy Baldr (Tom McCall), is maybe a little too vanilla compared to the rest of the pantheon but that’s perhaps what you need for a god of light and beauty.
Oliver Hoare’s Loki has some issues with projection and the actor is physically slight of frame. He occasionally gets lost while slithering about Sam Wyer’s impressive set and his wolf/son Fenrir is just too cutesy to help drive forward any edgy narrative. Wyer should not feel downhearted, however, as his larger scale puppet designs are a triumph.
Sarah Thom’s mystical Seer is exquisite – all other-worldly and menacing. Unfortunately, as “the foremost among goddesses”, Fiona Putnam’s Frigga is a little disappointing. The performance is adept enough, but the chemistry between Odin and his wife needs to be dialed up a notch and Frigga’s character imbued with a little more mystical grandeur. Even her costume works against her, giving her the look of an Edwardian governess rather than the matriarch of the gods.
All in all, Ragnarok deserves to be seen. Whether the public will take the risk of a thirty-minute car ride from the nearest conurbation is another matter. They should – it’s a splendid piece of work.
Runs until September 28 | Photo: Mike Kwasniak