Jason and the Argonauts (4 stars)

Gilmorehill G12, Glasgow, Thu 2-Fri 3 Nov, then touring


There’s something about myth that short circuits history and defines an immediacy almost regardless of the historical moment you’re in. These are stories told and retold through the ages that capture defining human dilemmas about love, war, family and a host of other preoccupations of our existence which recur in most cultures. This version of a story of a journey fraught with adventure from Visible Fictions sets itself in the world of the ancients and before, but, partially because of a couple of tremendously engaging performances, finds a contemporary feel that might well have the ship that sails the perilous oceans of a misty past making its way up Lothian Road.

In it, we see echoes of so much subsequent drama that it’s hard to number the moments that evoke other great plays that allude to myth. From Hamlet to Oedipus Rex and on to Macbeth the tale flows on. Telling the story of Jason, whose name, it is emphasised, means “Healer”, and his band of misfits, all played by a succession of action man figures, and their journey beyond the edge of the world to recover the golden fleece, there is no let up in the narrative tension. To avenge his usurping uncle, who has killed his father, Jason and the boys do battle with sea monsters, giant bronze birds and alarming ambulatory rocks, and all this is lightened by some sweet bathetic humour.

Douglas Irvine’s production gets the tone just right to appeal to children, and does enough to bring out the child in far older folk. Robin People’s design features an oxcart that smoothly morphs into a ship, a throne, the bank of a river and a multitude of other functions with admirable dexterity. And at the centre, two actors, Simon Donaldson and Tim Settle swap roles deftly in a multitude of personas, gently ad libbing, rapping with the audience, and engaging in all the physical business demanded with admirable aplomb. This is a pleasing night of entertainment that will leave you wanting more.

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