Zeus on the Loose
Fire Club, Vauxhall
Reviewed – 25th September 2019
“the production is most successful when plot and acting are stripped away altogether and the show embraces pure spectacle”
Zeus On The Loose bills itself as a mix of cabaret, circus skills, musical theatre, and burlesque – an initially impressive-sounding performance. But it turns out that the way these diverse elements purport to be connected is the true ‘loose’ element of the production, making for a tenuously-linked variety show that is very hit-and-miss.
The plot – although plot is a generous word for it – seems to centre on Zeus (Michael Afemare) and Hera (Penni Tovey) and their battle over Zeus’ true-to-myth numerous infidelities. Yet, despite being barely there, it is somehow hard to follow as well. Hera and Hades (Vicky Vox) scheme to send Aphrodite and her twin sister to the underworld in an alleged attempt to stop their power, but why must they keep it secret from Zeus? However, such problems are soon swept aside as the focus moves to the dancing parts of the show, which are thrust into the action in the guise of entertainment for the gods, a tournament, or sometimes just randomly.
Despite the narrative shortcomings, director Emma Rollason has assembled a talented array of dancers and performers – (Fern Hopkins, Phyl Cashman, Sean O’Flanagan, and Suzie Smith) and they are deployed well throughout the show. While there is a sense that the choreography (Allie Ho Chee and Phyl Cashman) doesn’t always utilise their skills fully, the dancing is nice to watch and showcases a mixture of different styles. The individual acrobatic performances on aerial silks and hoops are fantastic; however, the most impressive part of the evening is easily handed to an incredible archery stunt from Shannen Jones as Artemis.
The production’s music (Elizabeth Lahav) contains a recognisable mix of popular songs that are tongue-in-cheek references to brief exchanges of dialogue – such as Zeus dancing to “I’m Horny” and travelling to the underworld represented by “Highway to Hell”. However, the singing is more often than not underwhelming and is matched by an awkward set, where fuzzy images of ‘Olympus’ are projected onto the back of the stage in a way that takes away from, rather than adds to the atmosphere.
The sexual element of the show is overplayed from the beginning, but the acting never quite settles on a tone that suits this. Dean McCollough as Apollo opens with a few jokes, but acts more like a warm-up act than part of the show itself. And Vicky Vox tries her best to match the mood with some amusing commentary, but she cannot carry the whole show. Overall, the production is most successful when plot and acting are stripped away altogether and the show embraces pure spectacle, such as in its fun and rousing finale.
Despite its slapped-together nature, Zeus On The Loose still makes for an enjoyable evening out for those after a bit of light-hearted dancing and some impressive circus skills, but just don’t expect too much substance behind the showy outfits.
Reviewed by Vicky Richards
Photography (c) Zeus On The Loose
Zeus on the Loose
Fire Club, Vauxhall until 19th October