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Mythos: Ragnarök at Vault Festival

It’s not often that the entertainment tastes of an intellectually snobby middle-aged woman and an action-mad 10-year-old boy align perfectly, but thanks to its layers of spectacle and storytelling, Mythos: Ragnarök (at the Vault Festival this weekend before touring the UK) manages to find just such a sweet-spot of pure fun for everyone.

Mythos: Ragnarok
Mythos: Ragnarok

Confession: you would have to pay me (a lot!) to attend a WWE event. I deplore violence and cringe even at fictional depictions of it; I take an active role as a censor against it in my children’s entertainment consumption. However, pro-wrestler Ed Gamester’s production (in which he also stars as Odin, as well as directs his cast of eight other trained wrestlers) was, for me, a masterclass in stage combat. Perhaps because it’s built on the solid source material of Norse mythology (which, let’s face it involves all manner of conflict and visceral drama) the action comes across intensely but also playfully. I jumped in my seat more than once in surprise and wonder, but never felt like I was a complicit spectator to mindless brutality. My son, on the other hand, counted the ‘suplex’ moves and exclaimed, ‘that’s gotta hurt’ in the conventions of pro-wrestling – ultimately moved to chant, ‘Loki! Loki! Loki!’ (Loki is played with great comic timing and physicality by Michael Reece.) But my young co-critic also took in significant elements of the story and was waxing eruditely on Norse sagas on the way home. The idea that I could feel smug about edifying my child with an exploration of archetypes and legends thanks to taking him to see pro wrestling is not a sentence I’m likely to type again – but it’s absolutely true!

Maddison Miles (as Freyja) and Rhonda Pownall (as Gullveig and Hel) not only hold their own – and then some – in the combat but bring varied tone to the stories of the female gods that are crucial to these tales. Physically powerful as wrestlers and commanding as actors, the women of the show brought a further fierceness and joy to the production. Indeed, the entire cast occupied distinctly drawn characters through dialogue, manner, and costume (designed with outstanding detail and texture by Melanie Watson). Beau Sapsford as Baldr, the invincible and much-adored god, also found just the right pitch of comedy, drama and physicality. Gamester’s casting and direction shows a considered sculptural touch as the relative scale of each performer needs to work with a story centred around the ‘land of the giants’. Unlike the stereotypes of pro-wrestling, this show brings to life archetypes to moving effect. But it also has plenty of crash/bang/wallop that is simply thrilling.

An unmissable blockbuster of a show that pulls off the seemingly impossible, Mythos: Ragnarök proves itself epic in every sense of the word. Entirely fresh and the highest of quality, you simply need to check it out.

5 Star Rating

Review by Mary Beer

Join Odin and Loki in their struggle to overcome primeval giants, rival Gods and Goddesses, and each other’s ambitions in this hard-hitting, dark comic adaption of Norse mythology.

Weaving ancient myths, legends, and folk tales into original pieces of theatre, Mythos utilises a cast of actors who specialise in professional wrestling to create some of the most intense and thrilling fight scenes ever seen in theatre.

Odin: Ed Gamester
Borr/Fenrir: Sam Gardiner
Loki: Michael Reece
Gullveig/Hel: Rhonda Pownall
Baldr: Beau Sapsford
Freyja: Maddison Miles
Thor: Justin Sysum
Surtr: Charlie Spooner
Fate: Melanie Watson

Lights: Dan Phillips
Costume: Melanie Watson

Writer: Ed Gamester
Director: Ed Gamester
Producer: Ed Gamester


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  • Mary Beer

    Mary graduated with a cum laude degree in Theatre from Columbia University’s Barnard College in New York City. In addition to directing and stage managing several productions off-Broadway, Mary was awarded the Helen Prince Memorial Prize in Dramatic Composition for her play Subway Fare whilst in New York. Relocating to London, Mary has worked in the creative sector, mostly in television broadcast and production, since 1998. Her creative and strategic abilities in TV promotion, marketing and design have been recognised with over 20 industry awards including several Global Promax Golds. She is a founder member of multiple creative industry and arts organisations and has frequently served as an advisor to the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

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