Hercules – Bristol Old Vic REVIEW

You may have seen the Disney version, maybe even read the Greek myth but you haven’t seen the ping-pong version. Bristol Old Vic’s Young Company and The Wardrobe Ensemble’s latest production, Hercules, is unique and thought-provoking, and isn’t running for long… so get your tickets quick!

Each member of the ensemble of seventeen is as strong as the next. The casting is outstanding and allowed for strong multi-roling as the play progressed through time.

The modernisation of the piece is brilliant, bringing it back up to date by setting it in a ping pong parlour (sounds strange but really works!), pop culture references and today’s slang.

By modernising the tale the company make Hercules story easier to relate to, drawing you deeper into the ping pong world. The Ancient Greek myth features all the characters we recognise from today’s world but it’s this adaptation that makes you realise that.

Ingenious and funny, the company sustained interested by inventing endless new ways to tell their story. Innovative is the word that immediately springs to mind. Teamed with a clever script and strong execution of these techniques this creates a mature and professional feeling production.

The team excel in physical theatre and storytelling techniques that would often come across as cringy or uneffective. Their embodiment of Hercules 12 labours and narration fills the stage, bringing further energy and atmosphere into the immersive space.

They also interpret the moral of the myth in 21st fashion, by portraying Hercules strength in an emotional sense as well as a physical one. This allowed them to address the ongoing issue of the pressure and toxicity of masculinity explicitly through lines like “Don’t be a snowflake” as well as more subtly through Hercules expectations within society.

Bristol Old Vic’s Young Company and The Wardrobe Ensemble have pushed the boundaries and the expectations of young theatre and are leaving every audience impressed and satisfied. This production is smile inducing and it is a joy to see talented actors displaying such skill at a young age, and having a brilliant time doing it.

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