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Greek Myths for Kids
Published on Sunday, 15 August 2010

4 stars

C aquila (venue website)
5-30 Aug (not 17), 12:00pm (12:50pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

Greek Myths for Kids is a fascinating adventure into the world of the ancients, a pint-sized clash of the titans that kids and parents alike will laugh with and learn from.  The performance takes in two of the most famous stories from Greek mythology, those of Theseus and the Minotaur, and Perseus and Medusa.  Both tales have an easily-digestible narrative of a hero questing to defeat a monster, and the storytellers evoke the key details in a way that children can relate to and enjoy.

Naturally, some of the more adult practices of ancient Greece and their Gods are excised in the adaptation, although I was personally disappointed not to meet Charon, ferryman to the dead, as we crossed the River Styx on our way to slay the Gorgon Medusa.  Charon's absence may well have been for brevity rather than scariness: it is a shorter show of around three-quarters of an hour, so maybe that diversion was not really needed.

The stories are well-paced, and maintained the children's attention throughout.  The kids also engaged well with the tales – some covered their ears in fright as the Minotaur growled off-stage, for instance, or hid with Theseus as he traversed the labyrinth.  The performers did very well to talk with the children beforehand, so that they were able to call them out by name during interactive sequences, such as holding onto the golden thread to help Theseus find his way back out.  They were able to maintain a consistent sense of action and movement, driving the drama forward.

I also enjoyed their puppetry, particularly the large-scale Minotaur, and Perseus's flying horse Pegasus.  After frightening the kids with his fearsome cries, when he actually appears the Minotaur is quite endearing, in the manner of a Highland cow, and we feel some sympathy for him when Theseus runs him through.  I also enjoyed the simple but evocative growth of Pegasus's wings, light and airy and suitably magical.  The smaller puppets, used to represent the human heroes and villains, also worked very well.  I was just slightly underwhelmed by poor old Medusa - although appreciate that for narrative purposes she had to appear on the same scale as mini Perseus (he puts her head in his bag), and that for child-friendliness she could not be made too vivid (her hair is made of snakes, for those who don't remember).

I found Greek Myths for Kids to be a pleasant and enjoyable introduction to two of the most memorable tales from the ancients, which neatly sidesteps any of the awkward Greek carnality that parents of younger children will want to avoid.  Other aspects of the stories are also changed in this adaptation, and so while it might not be entirely accurate to the historical tales, it is highly entertaining.  And for its target audience, that's probably what matters more.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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