Pants on Fire Theatre Group
Unity Theatre
25th-26th February 2011

Reviewed by Natalie Aigelsreiter and Hana Leaper

It feels strange and serendipitous that after many long, dark hours pawing over the complex network of intricacies on which the theme of transformation is based (Metamorphoses is one of my favourite texts), I have re-discovered that element which makes the Metamorphoses so entertaining. Invention, Ovid’s best quality as a poet, in the sense of uncovering new forms and facets of humanity was both illuminated and added to by the Pants on Fire theatre group. The selected myths (narrated mainly from the Second World War period sitting-room of Jupiter and Juno) were presented in a highly creative and innovative stage performance, with much constructive relevance to the historical setting of 1940’s Britain. The diversity of staging devices, from their use of music, to mannequins and puppets, clever costume and creative stage choreography made this version without doubt the most witty and ingenious modern stage adaptation of a classical text I have seen. The comical overtones and hilarious parodies , such as a self-obsessed Narcissus taking the guise of a hardboiled detective, followed y the sex-mad, retro -bathing suit clad Salmacis contrasted starkly with Tiresias’ dooming prophecies of war and the sounds of bombs dropping over London. The strongest notion to spring from the stage was that change causes chaos during which communities cling together to bear pain and loss, out which comes transformation;however, new orders have their own upheavals and so the cycle continues. Pants on Fire beautifully illustrate poet Donald Davie’s point that, “The elation of comedy is saying hooray for life in its own terms, however incongruous and absurd” with this gorgeous, full, satirical celebration of humanity’s ability to mess up, then move on.

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