Shakespeare’s tragedies are performed today because they show us how human faults like vanity, pride, or a lust for power can lead to ruin. There are similar bloody lessons in Norse mythology. You’ll get some of that – with live combat! – in Mythos: Ragnarok.
If you’re not so familiar with the Marvel films, ancient folk sources tell us of the uneasy alliances in Asgard, home of the Norse gods related to chief god Odin, like Freyja (Goddess of Sex and War), Thor (God of Thunder), and Loki (God of Mischief). They also relate the time of Ragnarok, when gods turned their powers on each other.
We get a compressed version of this tumultuous time through the work of UK company Mythological Theatre, who are a troupe of professional wrestlers. The show did brisk business at the Edinburgh Fringe, and has garnered numerous appreciative reviews.
Battles between gods or (well-cast) giants occur on a wrestling deck, giving fight scenes a bone-rattling physicality. Melanie Watson’s costume design assists in transporting us back to these feudal times of fire and ice.
Written and directed by Ed Gamester, the major players get some character development between (or through!) bouts, and all players maintain their characterisations amidst the physical demands of their roles.
Our cast can’t wear mics amongst all the smackdowns, and there was the odd time when some dialogue was lost. Also, the show runs over 70 minutes, and some novelty could fade after a while if you weren’t already a wrestling fan. But – by Thor’s hammer – the cast pump up the complexity of the moves for an eye-catching finale.
Despite the serious subject matter, there’s also a lot of enjoyable silliness to be had here. Some of the cast have fun with the quirks of their origin stories, and the solemn Odin permits himself some dry asides at the expense of the not-so-bright gods of Asgard. Ethically ambiguous Loki hams up appropriately, bum-wiggling at all and getting some of the best audience banter in.
Ticket prices are a bit above a typical fringe show, but for a big touring cast, that’s to be expected. Good deals are available for concession holders, Fringe Dwellers, Instagram Stalkers, or on “Hump Day” Wednesdays. You won’t find a better crash(-bang-thump) course in Norse legend than Mythos: Ragnarok.
Festival Park – The Bunker, Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne
Performance: Tuesday 17 October 2023
Season continues to 29 October 2023
For more information, visit: www.mythosragnarok.co.uk for details.
Image: Mythos: Ragnarok – photo by Erin Pearce
Review: Jason Whyte