Pandemonium! (a Greek Myth-Adventure)

What the Critics Said at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2001...

 
DAILY MAIL
Michael Coveney
Even the audience is enmeshed in this children's show...
BOXING CLEVER IN A MONSTER OF A MUSICAL TREAT
 
"All hell breaks loose, literally, when Pandora opens that box of hers, a wedding present from the great god Zeus. Trouble flies out, causing upset and unhappiness for all mankind. This delightful new musical play for children, Pandemonium! (a Greek Myth-Adventure), by Jenifer Toksvig - kid sister of broadcaster Sandi - and composer David Perkins, presses all the right buttons and serves up a Festival treat. Greek myths were great stories, and can be effectively told in a simple way without losing their potency. So it is here, with Pandora's flight and confusion combined with the unrequited passion of the self-admiring Narcissus and his girlfriend Echo, the flight of Icarus to the sun, and Midas turning everything to gold.
 
On the tight, square acting area of this venue hidden behind the Gilded Balloon, Ellie Jones's production is a model of efficiency and inventiveness. The six actors sing, dance, play musical instruments and change their costumes more often than supermodels at a Paris fashion show. When Icarus flies, his fate is replicated in a hand-held puppet crashing to the ground. Echo's song is a cleverly repeated musical line by a river represented in a blue strip of plastic bubble wrap. Best of all, the labyrinth of the Minotaur is created when Theseus's red jumper unravels and its long red thread is wound among the audience so that we all become enmeshed with the scary monsters. Midas does a big jazzy rock number as everything he touches turns to gold and he throws a spray of chocolate gold coins into the audience (not one child threw them back!).
 
The quality of the songs, with their precise lyrics and mixture of popular styles, reminded me of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat; and you know how popular that show became. The narrative elements are admirably controlled, so that we can follow the marital bickerings of Zeus and Hera in the background, and the resolution has both moral strength and theatrical fervour. When all is done, we must live in hope, and this uplifting, enjoyable musical makes you leave the theatre believing in just that."
 

 
THE LIST
Viv Franzmann
 
* * * * *
HITLIST (The best festival kids stuff)
"Pandemonium: Music, song and dance merge in Jenifer Toksvig's reworking of the classics.
Greek myths never looked so good."
 
It's not often you see Zeus and Hades doing the Tango as they discuss the concepts of hope. Created by Jenifer Toksvig, Pandemonium introduces a load of mythical Greek characters and their various idiosyncrasies in this rollicking romp of a show, which is both clever and accessible. Pandora (her of the box) is about to marry Epimetheus (animal creator, apparently) but a disgruntled Zeus puts a thunder bolt in the works. Pandora is forced to leg it and in the race to find her, much fantastic tomfoolery takes place involving all seventeen characters who, thanks to smart use of costume, are easy to identify. The performers are wonderfully funny and (and!) they play all the music, sing all the songs and hot shoe shuffle with the best of them.
 

 
TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT (National)
Heather Neill
 
"A multi-talented cast of six play instruments, change character, sing witty songs and exude super-human energy. Jenifer Toksvig's book and lyrics are funny and the pace often manic. This is a pocket musical comedy for anyone over six. Lucky audience members may even catch chocolate gold coins chucked at them by Midas."
 

 
TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT (Scotland)
Brian Hayward
 
"Dr Johnson thought that reading Milton was the reward for a lifetime spent in scholarship and so, in its way, was watching Wisepart rollicking their way through "Pandemonium (a Greek Myth-Adventure)."
 

 
THE SCOTSMAN
Jane Ellis
 
* * * *
 
"The Gods, Icarus, the Minotaur, Narcissus and Pandora's Box - they're all crammed into this zappy musical... played with refreshing confidence by a cast of six. The main story concerns the search by Epimetheus for Pandora, who has opened the box and run away from her wedding in fright. Side plots include a touching puppet version of the fall of Icarus. Tunes are belted out with brio, especially by Neil Clench as soul diva Midas, and Emma Manton, who swaps seamlessly between tragic Echo and chirpy ragtime Eros..."
 

 
THE BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE
Peter Lathan
 
"Yes, it's a kids' show, but it's more than that. I hesitate to use that awful phrase, "a family show", redolent as it is of the suggestion that such shows are patronising and neither fish, fowl nor good red herring, but I have to say that there is something for all ages in Pandemonium. Writer Jenifer Toksvig says that it meets the Key Stage 2 National Curriculum requirements for the study of myths and legends, so it presents 7 to 10 year olds with an enjoyable introduction to a part of their education, whilst having layers of comedy which appeal to teenagers and to adults, as well as some damned good songs. The main story is that of Pandora's box, but on the way we meet Zeus, Hera and Hades, Dionysus, Echo, Narcissus, Midas, Daedalus and Icarus. Educational. Funny. Musical. What more could you ask?"
 

 
Here's what some of our audience had to say about the Edinburgh Festival Production:
 
"5/5 I never realised that Greek Mythology could be so fun!" Emily Mason
 
"Thank you so much for your play Pandemonium. I saw it in Edinburgh and was greatly impressed. The main reason I was so impressed is that I am a sixth grade teacher in Wilton, CT U.S.A. and part of my curriculum is Greek mythology. It was fun to see the old myths portayed in such a human way." Will Matthews