Originally published on A Younger Theatre
With August fast approaching, the smaller theatres in London are almost all filled with Edinburgh Fringe companies showcasing their latest productions. These venues are being used as a dry run before the largest and most famous arts festival in the world kicks off its month long occupation of the historic Scottish city. July is the perfect time to catch what potentially could be an award-winning production before everyone else – if you can get a ticket that is, since most of these kinds of shows will only do a couple of performances before moving on.
The Hideout is one such show, a rough and ready pre-Fringe production that needs tweaking before it can compete with its rivals. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough time to make all the necessary improvements to this play, so it will go up to the fringe as unfinished and unimpressive as it comes across in London.
Set in a 1920s cabaret club, the performance is presented by the Greek gods Dionysus, Aphrodite and Hades who delight in re-enacting the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. As if the story weren’t exciting enough, they decide that as gods they could conjure up an alternative ending to surprise and entertain the audience. The characters of Theseus and love interest Ariadne are simply caught up in the whimsy of the gods and whisked along for the ride.
Initially Hades and Aphrodite welcome the audience into the theatre – Hades is wearing a cap and nightgown not dissimilar to Ebenezer Scrooge and Aphrodite sports a shawl that my grandmother would have worn. Not the sexiest of outfits for the goddess of love. Then Dionysus appeared dressed as a French mime artist; there was no explanation for this throughout the show.
The acting is entirely below par as well; all the gods deliver their lines in an overly expressive manner which in no way accentuates the emotion but simply makes the characters appear creepy and grating. It did however serve to counter the entire lack of emotion displayed by love interest Ariadne, who delivers her lines in a robotic monotone.
Theseus is a minor saving grace in the production. Despite the unexplained lisp and drawn on six pack (which adds no comedy value), the actress playing Theseus delivers her lines with some comedy prowess. The audience interaction, whilst cheesy, serves to prove that Theseus can improvise and added some credibility to the overall performance.
The set, whilst minimal, is used effectively. The screen that hides the actors from on stage (the theatre doesn’t have a backstage) also doubles up very effectively as labyrinth walls for Theseus’ journey. Some of the props however are less effective, in particular the clarinet that Dionysus plays when any background atmosphere is needed. She is fairly adept at the instrument but the clarinet is not well tuned and 30 seconds is more than enough.
The Fringe welcomes productions from all backgrounds at all levels, which is one of the most incredible things about the festival. Sometimes you can wander around and stumble across a hidden gem in a back alley theatre, but I don’t think this particular production will fall into that category.
The Hideout is playing at the Bread and Roses Theatre until 20 July before transferring to the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets see the Bread and Roses theatre website. Photo by Haste Theatre.