Writer: Harry Blake
Director: Eleanor Rhode
Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
Legend tells us that Thor and Loki were foes. Thor was powerful but not too bright and tended to look down on his illegitimate half-brother while Loki was cunning and resented the attention lavished on his rather dim semi-sibling. According to Harry Blake (who wrote and performs in the musical) this is incorrect. Thor is a pacifist who prefers writing verse to fighting and is ill-suited to tackling the impending apocalypse while Half-Giant Loki is too soft-hearted to take revenge.
Thor and Loki is a show that is difficult to categorise. There is some low-key small ‘p’ politicalsatire with the Gods deciding to take back their borders and build a great wall around Asgard but in the main this is simply a superior musical comedy. Author Harry Blake avoids the obvious and steers away from bombastic power ballads or a Wagnerian score in favour of stripped-down rock music played live by the cast. The songs, however, are not so much stand-alone musical numbers but used, in the manner of opera, as a means of telling the story.
Blake pays tribute to a range of influences that are far away from the Norse legends or Marvel comics and films. Loki, in the style of Kermit The Frog, bemoans that it isn’t easy having horns and there is even a gag for Radio 4 listeners as Thor explains he has tried to act without repetition or deviation. But the show feels full rather than crowded. There is no sense of jokes being stuffed into the script in the hope they might work- each gag is carefully honed to snap satisfyingly into place.
Director Eleanor Rhode develops a fine sense of place. It is obvious why the sensitive souls Thor and Lokifeel out of place in their homelands – the Gods are portrayed as obnoxious jocks in wrestling and football gear and the Giants as sneering chavs. Although the cast gently mock the basic choreography of Jennifer Fletcher it is highly effective especially a tap-dancing tribute to A Chorus Line.
As the musical moves towards the climax, Rhode shifts the mood away from the apocalyptic towards a wistful sense of regret for past mistakes. The Gods gently lament the approach of twilight and inevitable darkness.
An excellent cast portray a range of vivid characters. A loudmouth recruiting sergeant and a past-her- peak prophetess (‘I am big – it’s the Nine Worlds that got small’) are particular stand-outs along with an insipid Thunder God and an over-eager Loki.
Thor and Loki uses source material that does not seem an obvious choice for comedy to produce an unexpectedly funny show with some excellent music and fine performances.
Reviewed on 22 September 2018 | Image: Contributed