Jason and the Argonauts
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 12-14 Oct then touring
Harpies, fire-breathing bulls, dragons - Jason and the Argonauts has no shortage of combative characters. Add to that Jason, his family, Medea and over 50 Argonauts and you’ll understand the difficulties facing Visible Fictions’ director, Douglas Irvine.
Adapting the famous myth for the stage has certainly been a challenge for the Glasgow-based theatre company. Particularly given the entire show is performed by just two actors. ‘They’re flipping back and forward all over the place,” laughs Irvine. ‘It’s a really fast production, and great fun.’
The set has also posed a few problems. Jason journeys across the ocean in a vast ship, visiting palaces and passing through clashing rocks. There’s also the question of scale, which those who have seen the film version will know, is all important in making Jason look small in the face of mighty beasts. Irvine’s ingenious solution was to enlist the help of some well-loved toys.
‘I wanted a very playful approach to the show so it’s just like two boys playing,’ explains Irvine. ‘We’re using paper planes and boats, an Action Man and sword fights with sticks.’ Playfulness aside, the show tackles some pretty intense subjects - revenge, growing up, families, betrayal. The show is aimed at ‘ages 9 and beyond’ as the company puts it, summing up the popularity Visible Fictions enjoys with both adults and children.
‘We’ve spent a lot of time making sure the story is clear and the language accessible,’ says Irvine. ‘And although we’re dealing with myth, the two characters are basically like clowns which is how we connect with a 9-year-old. And adults know they’ll see something which speaks to an audience, regardless of their developmental stage.’