By Danielle Farrow
Temple Theatre’s Unmythable is an absolute joy. You set sail with Jason as his Argonauts (cue much cheering and many heroes referenced) and enjoy heroic deeds brought to vivid life through enthusiastic song, much merriment and even a little political poignancy (heroes are not always heroes to everyone and that Pandora’s box can still remind us of troubles).
The trio of performers (Roels Hagen Findsen, Paul O’Mahony and Will Pinchin, under the direction of Mike Tweddle) have great energy, really speak to their audience, swap roles around with fantastic ease and show a great deal of skill in what they make look simple. In addition to being strong as an ensemble, each impresses with individual talents, one being particularly adept with vocal transitions, another with physical embodiments and the third providing some fine feminine wiles.
Using a few small costume changes – a cap here, bowtie there, dress or loose shirt at other points – and seamless sound effects, with occasional and effective lighting changes, many myths are boldly presented alongside that of Jason and the Golden Fleece. So there are mentions of and encounters with such legends as wily Theseus, labouring Herakles, suffering Orpheus, Amazonian hot-shot Hippolyta, resourceful Medea and doomed Pandora (to name but a few) as well as the Olympian gods themselves.
The tales are told in different ways – one highlight occurring within the wooden horse at Troy – with songs (created by the company and its musical director, Robert Castell) that include rock‘n‘roll blues and rap, as well as a catchy Disney-esque number. Popular culture is referenced well, too, never forced, yet including such gems as cameos by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Marlon Brando.
Some mentions and jokes are definitely more for adults, but may stimulate further investigation from the children present, and the comedy action makes sure that younger audience members won’t feel left out for any length of time, though they may be confused about some of the heroes referenced briefly if they are not already in the know about Greek myths. A fair few verbal offerings do rest on such knowledge, but the main characters are all fleshed out and explained along the way. If those explanations are not always immediate, that is no bad thing – there is no condescending to younger minds (or myth-novices of any age) here.
Temple Theatre’s Unmythable is a very fine production: a slick show that has heart and strong content as well as polished delivery, and whose concept is never lost along the way. You can even enjoy the music for audience entrance and exit, which shows the fun of the piece as well as being cheesily apt. So, go sing-along to ‘Search for the Hero (inside yourself)’ and ‘Holding out for a Hero’ as you bravely journey to battle the dragon that eats people (and never sleeps) and enjoy intelligent and hilarious entertainment along the way.