Delivered with enthusiasm, humour and warmth, Stephen Fry’s MYTHOS: A TRILOGY brings Greek mythology to life with his trio of plays
Off the back of two of his published books surrounding Greek Mythology, Stephen Fry took to The Lowry’s Lyric Theater to perform a trilogy of plays in the company of the Greek GODS, HEROES and MEN whose gripping tales still echo today.
The stage is set with a lone armchair, spot-lit, centre stage and when Fry enters, it is to a huge applause from an extremely diverse audience, ranging from ten years old and upwards, each of them immediately enthralled.
Obviously thrilled to be touring this personally fascinating subject, Fry’s familiar voice launches into the origins of Greek Mythology and from the get-go and I feel like he’s talking to me and only me as he regales stories explaining the origin and the nature of the world.
The lives and activities of the deities whose names we all loosely know from poems, tales and films, stories told by the fireside (or hearth from the Greek Goddess Hestia who represented hearth and home – see Stephen, I learned something!) this is like Greek Mythology 101 and the entire room is silent whilst he whisks us through the beginning of time and the birth of this strange and new world. It’s all here, from the void of chaos, the primordial deities Uranos and Gaia giving birth the Titans and the Cyclopses, to the Titans, Chronos and Rhea giving birth to Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, Hera and Demneter, who eventually overthrew the Titans. Each character is voiced with a comedic accent in only the way a master raconteur such as Fry can pull off!
The show is interactive in part as in the background, projected screens illustrate parts of the stories without taking any attention from the storyteller himself. His acting abilities are utilised brilliantly as he gives all the characters accents and voices which make them instantly relatable to the audience, who knew the great Greek hero Heracles, son of Zeus, had a Brummy accent?
Fry’s enthusiasm is infectious, he has no autocue, he reels off the names of the God’s, Heroes and side characters only ever heard of once alike with photographic ease and much to our relief, assures us we shouldn’t feel like we have to remember everything. His delivery is always clear, concise and never confused, he is an extremely eloquent and engaging speaker, it is easy to get lost in the story tales.
His comedic capabilities are also prevalent throughout each of the performances this weekend, whilst this isn’t a comedy show per see, the historic chronicles are told through Fry’s always humorous outlook on the world.
Intertwined into the narrative of the shows, is the extraordinarily interesting subject of etymology, personally one of my favourite subjects. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts and literature of Western civilisation and remains part of Western heritage and language. He explains the derivation from the Greek language to the words we now or still use today, I learned quite a lot myself. He points out poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology.
Fry obviously loves the sound of his own voice, as we all do, and he clearly has something to say on everything – be it an answer or opinion on how these primordial deities shed life on the political and religious institutions of Ancient Greece and its civilisation, and how we gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself. He takes time in each part of the show to answer questions emailed into ‘The Oracle’ at intermission with endless warmth and humour. A portion of the show is also dedicated to ‘Mythical pursuits’ a twist on the Trivial Pursuit game from the ’80s, audience members can choose a colour coded nugget of information.
This simple, no-frills show delivered exactly what I think he intended, a thirst for more knowledge and an appreciation for the Greeks before us and the gifts their incredible civilisation has bestowed on us today.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I need to get back to re-reading The Iliad in the dulcet tones of Stephen Fry’s voice and booking my next flight to Greece!!
Stephen Fry’s MYTHOS: A TRILOGY performed at The Lowry on 30 and 31 August 2019.
Lola Maguire leases cars by day and has evolved to live off movies, books, gin and sarcasm; probably the best cheese eater in the world. Guitarist and singer in a band, co-creator of two kids, currently writes for Frankly My Dear.