‘Minotaur’ at Bristol Old Vic

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Originally written for Theatre Bristol Writers.

The Minotaur is a ferocious yet tortured beast that roams the depths of the labyrinth appeased only by the singing of his half sister Ariadne and by the deaths of 14 children sent to him by the King of Athens each year. Theseus is a hero on a journey of adventure and self-discovery – intent on moral good, saving the children and killing the Minotaur.

The young audience were immersed in the action from the outset with the appearance of the Minotaur eliciting excited squeals and squirms from the children as it snuffled its way around the studio. As the drama unfolded the audience became further embroiled in the plot with most being very keen to take a place on the stage and the production successfully kept its audience entertained throughout. The action was accompanied by a spine tingling composition of live music and vocals, providing a bold and sometimes haunting atmosphere which contrasted well with the too few comedy moments, some hilarious cartoonish scenes and clownish antics.

The world of the Minotaur is simply and effectively set with the actors working together to quickly and convincingly transform the space, taking the audience seamlessly from inside the lower labyrinth to the palaces of the upper world, journeying through forests and across seas.

The play is a retelling of an ancient myth, however the story also offers some opportunity to draw parallels with events and contexts in more contemporary society. Theseus as a young man on a journey to find his place in the world perhaps speaks to us positively of young people growing up in changing and sometimes challenging times today. The Kings demonstrate differing political intents and the weaknesses or darker side of political leadership or institutional leaders. King Aegeus complete with dressing gown and paper cracker crown is a memorable picture of an often weak, bewildered and lonely old man longing for the return of his son. Through Ariadne we are perhaps shown the consequences of imprisonment and the bitterness and regret of the imprisoned, however it is the characters inability to remedy or influence her own situation (her imprisonment and freedom are determined solely by the men around her) that perhaps provides the most significant lesson.

The Minotaur is a lively, intrepid and substantial piece of storytelling. It’s a show that will capture the imagination of audiences of all ages and is showing at Bristol Old Vic until the 9th of April.

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