Review-Jason and the Argonauts-AFTEC



By: Meaghan McGurgan


I've always thought of physical theatre as a much more visceral experience. The audience is engaged differently than in a traditional piece of theatre where they listen more than watch. Physical theatre is also different than dance or corporeal mime for me, in that it blends theatre/dance together. I was intrigued that known theatre director Vicki Ooi wanted to do her first physical theatre piece at the age of 72. She employed the assistance of Michael Brown, the movement director of War Horse and who has also worked for the Royal National Theatre in London.


The cast was a mixture of professionals and students. The sets were basic platforms with casters and props limited to sticks and jars. Their costumes were simple and mainly consisted of blacks with a few archetypal masks thrown in to help certain characters play more than one role. Lighting by Andrew Rictchie is beautiful and well thought out for the production. My favorite scene was the bull. I appreciated the designer's use of shin busters throughout the production; it gave everything an ominous feel, like something bad was coming up next. 


The student performers in AFTEC's production were very good. And at times they were even more engaging than the seasoned professionals on stage. I wish I could have seen more of them and seen them in larger parts. I enjoyed their performances greatly; they had wonderful commitment to the characters, lovely lines in the physical moments and didn't seem to push their vocals too hard. The professional performers, especially Michael Sharmon, were also very entertaining. I enjoyed his take on Hera. But at times the professionals seemed to be in a different world, theatrically, than the other actors. They were much more theatrical, their vocals at times over the top and the honesty in their characters lost behind the presentation.


This wasn't physical theatre like I've come to know it from DV8 or Anne Bogart. It was much more simple at times, almost Grotowski-esque, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed the presentation of the bull and I wish there had been more more moments like that within the play. When they eliminated the need for narration and just told the story through movement and breath, when the physicality really came together, Jason and the Argonauts was a beautiful show.


Jason and the Argonauts is playing through December 7th, For more information, click here.


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Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 4.5


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