Brighton FringeSouth West

BRIGHTON FRINGE: Legends of Ancient Egypt – Sweet Venues: Werks 1

Reviewer: Simon Topping

Jason Buck has come to tell the room how the world began, exploring Egyptian myth and legend from far back in time. Presenting himself in jeans, T-shirt, and a fabulous waistcoat, as well as sporting a rather fine beard, Buck doesn’t need gimmicks, costume or special effects. He approaches the artform in a gloriously traditional way, like when tales were passed by word of mouth.  It is a simple way of communication that is deceptively difficult to master and perform well.

Our guide starts from “the beginning”, with the god Ra appearing out of nowhere from the sea, in a large egg. Soon he has created children from his spit, twins, one male and one female.  This starts a trend of interbreeding from brother and sister which, while sounding odd to modern ears, is how most of the family tree of the Gods was created, it would seem.  A trend that was mirrored by the pharaohs of ancient Egypt in real life. Not a particular savory thought, if one were to ruminate on it for too long.

As the adventures continue, Buck deals well with the rustling sweet packets, crisp crunching and drink slurping by some of the younger members of the crowd, he is not put off his stride. The age suggestion for audience members is nine plus, a limit which seems correct for the content and for the concentration required; smaller children may easily turn to confectionary chomping if distracted.

Bucks delivery is mellifluous and relaxed, but has agency and gravity when needed, like Roger Mcgough mixed with a more benign version of the Dungeoneer, from 1980’s cult children’s television adventure game show, Knightmare. In bursts, he morphs well into characterisation with a growl of a dog god here and screech of a hawk there.  He displays fabulous physicality staggering as a drunken god or two, as well as impressing all with the most wonderful vulture call a theatregoer could wish for. He uses vocal techniques, such as his comedy echo, sparingly and to good effect, raising a chuckle from the gathering, and his description of Scarabs is very funny, producing further laughter from the appreciative spectators.

The narrative continues, there are so many stories that can be told, but, as our actor reminds us from time to time “That is a story for another day”. Here we only have a limited time and it is enough to be told of Ra’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  There are several appearances by the goddess Isis, who often disguises herself as a mortal woman, and word of the meddling Seth, Isis’ brother and god of chaos and darkness. All in all it is a captivating piece.

Everyone would benefit from switching off their digital world to be transported into a different realm for a time. So, relinquish your modern trappings and come enjoy Legends of Ancient Egypt. It is simple storytelling, told well; a lovely way to while away an hour.

Reviewed on 29th October. Runs to 1st November.

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Mellifluous Storytelling 

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of Holly Spanner. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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