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Posts Tagged ‘Ovid’

The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’s reopening offering is minimalist storytelling based on the 2000-year-old tales of Roman poet Ovid. Though I enjoyed it, particularly its playfulness, it wasn’t necessarily a good use of this extraordinary space. It would have worked just as well in any ‘black box’ studio theatre.

They pack a lot of tales into 80 minutes (well, there are over 250 to choose from), some well known, some more obscure, some very short, some more fully formed. All four actors – Steffan Donnelly, Fiona Hampton, Charlie Josephine and Irfan Jamji – do well interpreting the characters with a timelessness which makes many of the stories resonate well, notably those where the attitude to women can be shown up as antediluvian.

They exploit the intimacy of the venue with excellent audience engagement from the start, continuing with characters created from amongst us and even a singalong or two. This is its greatest strength, a disarming and infectious charm and tongue-in-cheek style which is impossible not to be captivated by.

I’m not sure the design – a sort of hardware shop where a few items are plucked from the ‘shelves’ and used – adds much, and the candlelight seemed to be used because they could. Though I enjoyed the evening (well, apart from the unmasked man behind breathing on my neck), it didn’t have that special quality so many others at the SWP have had, but in fairness the rest of the audience seemed to be having a fine old time.

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