How unexpectedly and thrillingly different – a bold and unique theatrical offering from the UK, which makes its international debut at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Think WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) crossed with Norse mythology in a story that melds passion and pain with humour and bravado.
Mythos: Ragnarok features professional wrestlers – gigantic men and fearsome women amongst them – engaged in hand to hand, body to body contact. And it is not just flesh on flesh, but steel on steel, as a realistic sword fight threatens life and limb. On a specially mounted, large mat inside a domed tent, magnified by heightened sound effects, the clashes are epic struggles for power and control.
Meet Odin (Ed Gamester) and his half-brother Loki (Michael Reece), their parents and children, including Thor (James Dunn) and his mighty hammer. There is a total of nine characters on stage at various junctures. Several of these God and Goddess wannabes, dressed to thrill by costume designer Melanie Watson, sport ferocious markings. Though, let’s be candid, not all are the smartest tools in the shed.
Their quest for omnipotence takes many a turn, the narrative unfolding in a series of chapters, inbreeding just part of the repertoire. The result is an exhilarating 75 minutes of riveting storytelling, with action aplenty. While it takes some getting used to the proliferation of unfamiliar names and just who sits where in the extended family tree, time assuages any confusion.
These are comic book heroes and villains, previously the domain of multimillion dollar cinematic superhero offerings from Disney, Sony and Warner Bros. Just like the best of that breed, comedy plays an integral role in elevating the spectacle of brains versus brawn. Still, if truth be told, it is hard to go past some of the spectacularly sculpted bodies on show.
While little may be new under the sun, this is visceral entertainment as original as chess boxing, which debuted late last century. The audience is engaged in the moment, willing on the combatants to greater heights. More power to the latter, I say, for I resoundingly applaud the endeavour and the achievement. Hats off to the show’s creator, writer and director Ed Gamester. Mythos: Ragnarok rocks!
Playing at Festival Park, The Bunker until 29th October, 2023, it is an eye-opener, not to be missed.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Le Freak (Melbourne Fringe Festival) – theatre review
- Control (Red Stitch Theatre) – theatre review
- Bernie Dieter’s Club Kabarett (Queen Victoria Market) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.