Writer: Stephen Fry
Director: Tim Carroll
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
Sat centre stage in a comfortable looking arm chair, one might wonder how a solo figure might hold the attention of a crowd of over 1,700 people. This is the task that household name, Steven Fry must undertake. Without a hint of trepidation, Fry takes to the stage to showcase one of the oldest skills in the world, the origins of any performance we see today. That skill: storytelling.
This second part of Fry’s Mythostrilogy tells the stories of the Greek heroes. Herakles, Theseus and Perseus feature prominently, the adaptations of these stories are taken from Fry’s book of the same title. Well written, numerous, told with humour and an array of, shall we say, interesting accents to represent the many characters involved, Fry’s colourful storytelling is enjoyable and comfortable. The performance is gentle, there is no pressure to laugh and react (although you do), the audience can just sit back and enjoy.
Mixed in with the stories Fry has opportunity to improvise and interact, answering the audience’s questions that have been asked through ‘the oracle’, Fry considers the impact of the ancient Greek language and civilization on modern life and literature. This isn’t merely a show of entertaining stories, it is also enlightening and often relevant.
Without a prompt or script and with the ability to improvise and showcase his vast knowledge of the Ancient Greek world and beyond, Fry cuts an impressive figure, holding the audience’s attention for over two hours. He really brings the stories to life; one can imagine Perseus quarrelling with the Grey Sisters over the location of Medusa, as if it had really happened. Greek myths are so often abridged in books, whittled down to the key elements that it can be hard to imagine the heroes, men and women involved as anything more than, well, a mythical figure of a name on a page. Fry makes them human, helps you to understand the strength of character these heroes needed to fulfil their quests, and as with any well-rounded character in a book or film, he gets you on their side so that you like them, maybe even feel a little akin to them, that is the storyteller’s art.
This is a charming show, there is something very magical about live storytelling. Whether it is worth the ticket price has to be at personal discretion. Storytelling often requires a certain amount of intimacy and a centre stalls ticket is over seventy pounds. When the book and audiobook, narrated by Fry himself, are also available, it is advisable to consider this when contemplating purchasing a ticket. Also this show is the second of three and some of the Lowry’s audience are here for all three shows. That is a heck of a financial pay out even with multi-buy discounts. Fry’s performance is endearing, but expensive.
Reviewed on 31 Sept 2019 | Image: David Cooper