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Jason and the Argonauts –
The Quest for the Golden Fleece

Dukes Walkabout Theatre Production 2009
Reviewed by Elizabeth Nicholson

Adapted by Kevin Dyer. Thursday 2nd July to Saturday 8th August 2009. 7.30pm start half hour break at 9pm and finish around 10.45pm

Sirens

As we parked the car, singing sirens could be heard coming from the public toilets enticing us on to Williamson Park and the start of Jason and the Argonauts.

As the crowd of wellingtons, waterproofs, umbrellas, bags, collapsible chairs and cushions in plastic carriers made their way through the trees members of the cast accompanied us.

Would it be a washout or a waterfall? We were yet to discover!

The Plot in Brief
One of the most popular of the ancient Greek myths, Jason and the Argonauts has been told and handed down over thousands of years. The version we know today is taken from an epic poem called Argonautica by Appollonius of Rhodes.

Jason is given the task of finding and claiming the Golden Fleece by sailing to the land of Colchis and, hopefully, overcoming King Aeetes. The magnificent ship he is given, ‘The Argo’, is crewed by the brave Argonauts; together with Jason they face many dangers and adventures; Sirens, Harpies, Clashing Rocks and Poseidon, Medea and the Bull, skeletons on horseback and the dragon who never sleeps – special effects that are skilfully crafted and executed.

As we shared the shelter of the trees the scene was adeptly set with sea sounds crashing all around us. The natural amphitheatre of the park was beautifully lit and once we had tuned ourselves into the echoes of the words, all became clearer. A handsome Jason is introduced as Billy until he discovers his true birthright and is set the task of finding the Golden Fleece by Pelias, who promises to spare his Mother’s life on Jason’s return.

Audience participation brings the story to life given the comic intervention. A chat up line for Emma in the audience; ‘ marry me, accept my seed’, unperturbed adds, ‘let us spawn like frogs in this warm pool’, clinching the laugh by the delivery.

From this setting the colourful collection meanders to the next stage as with each step the crowd is accompanied by Heracles, a simple and strong character, a very good-looking Incredible Hulk beating his drum.

Advice is given on the deflection of the sirens' seduction. The irony strikes us as we cover our ears and la la la our way past them. All that searching, appeals on Radio Lancashire, auditioning and rehearsing!

The mix of nature and architecture works on several levels and is used to good effect when Poseidon saunters forward to smash the Argo between two clashing rocks. The excellent interpretation of the fearsome Bull with such beauty and elegance of movement was complimented with a rousing musical composition – both working together to give my favourite memory of the production.

Jason and the Argonauts

As we meander down the hill to the climax of Jason’s adventures, spectacular views across Lancaster and Morecambe Bay only serve for us to reflect on the production.

Will Jason survive the final task and overcome the scary skeletons and smoke breathing dragon? Which of his crew will survive? Who has the job of washing, drying and pressing of all those beautiful costumes?
Will Jason save his mother?

Surrounded by water and floating fires a moving solo by Medea allows the audience to come full circle in this rousing awe inspiring adventure through Williamson Park.

And finally – as we walked back, a young boy asked his grandmother ‘Can we read about it when we get home?’

What more could you ask of a live theatre production?

The Very Versatile and Engaging cast comprised of:

David Acton – Pelias/Phines/Poseidon/Aeetes/Skeleton
Kate Crossley – Petracles/Jason’s Mother
Lisa Howard – Siren/Harpy/Medea/Puppeteer
Chris Jack – Jason
Craig Rogan – Guard 1/Testicles/Zeus/The Bull
Kirsten Shaw – Hera/Hag/Harpy/Skeleton
Noel White – Heracles/Guard 2

Sirens – Gemma Christie, Alexandra Lowe, Polly Shepherd, Melanie Haines, Maria Piacentini, Nicola Woods, Hayley Matthews, Cathy Hornby, Bryony Cousins

The Magical Movement of the Bull – Becca Thomas from Ludus Dance

Cunningly Creative Team
Directed by Joe Sumsion
Designed by Alison Heffernan
Music composed by Mark Melville
Lighting and sound designed by Brent Lees
Fight direction by Kate Waters

Reviewed performance Thursday 16 July 2009

© Elizabeth Nicholson
22 July 2009

 

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