Book and lyrics: Marcus Stevens
Music: Oran Eldor
Director and choreographer: Sarah O’Gleby
Reviewer: Stephen Bates
The good news is that, when the time comes around for looking back on the year, Mythic is unlikely to be named as the worst new musical to hit London in 2018. The bad news is that there are many times during its 90 minutes that it feels like a pretty close runner-up. Interpreting classic mythology in the style of an American High School musical, the show moves very awkwardly between Greece and Grease and only the high-spirited, tongue-in-cheek production that it gets here saves it from immediate consignment to the Underworld.
Persephone is a rebellious teenager, eager to escape the clutches of her over-protective mother,Demeter, a goddess who has incurred the displeasure of King of the Gods, Zeus. Forbidden to attend a rave party at the Acropolis in the company of Zeus’ daughter, Aphrodite, Persephone goes anyway and falls for neer-do-well dude, Hades. “Do you know where I can call a chariot” she asks and, then, when she should be telling her suitor to go to Hell, she realises that he lives there and she decides to follow him home.
Writer Marcus Steven relies on song lyrics to tell the story, using little spoken dialogue and he incorporates some quite clever jokes. The problem is that the whole show is so laughably preposterous that further jokes feel superfluous. Oran Eldor’s rock score, played by a six-piece band led by Music Director Chris Ma, is short on originality and the songs eventually start to feel repetitious and monotonous.
Georgie Westall’s Persephone, kitted out in a tartan miniskirt, is a bundle of energy, bringing sunshine to everywhere she goes, including Hell. “It doesn’t have to be like this” she tells Hades (Michael Mather with flame red hair and wearing Hell’s Angels gear), persuading him to suspend the torturing of innocent virgins for the day. Meanwhile, Demeter, played by Daniella Bowen, in an off-the-shoulder evening gown, as a lady with real balls, kills a cyclops in her quest to reclaim her lost daughter. Not bad for a woman in her “early thousands”.
Genevieve McCarthy’s Aphrodite is a spoiled little rich girl in a sparkling trouser suit and Tim Oxbrow’s Zeus resembles a small town American sheriff. They descend into Hell with Demeter but the show never quite descends into Greek tragedy, partly because of its short running time and partly because of director/choreographer Sarah O’Gleby’s work in making fun out of the nonsense, even when the material seems to be fighting against her.
A final thought could give encouragement to Stevens and Eldor. Stephen Sondheim sourced his 1974 flop musical The Frogs from ancient Greece and look what happened to him.
Runs until 24 November 2018 | Image: Marc Brenner