LAUGH YOUR WAY THROUGH WINTER
TROY The Musical
written, directed & designed by Paul Jenden
music composed by Gareth Farr
at Circa One, Wellington
From 24 Jun 2006 to 22 Jul 2006
[2hrs 20min, incl interval]
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 26 Jun 2006
originally published in The Dominion Post
A good musical comedy, wrote an American playwright, consists largely of disorderly conduct occasionally interrupted by talk. Being based on Ancient Greek mythology and legends there is more than enough disorderly conduct (adultery, seduction, abduction) for a dozen musical comedies. However, Troy has no talk to spoil the fun as it is, surprisingly, a sung-through musical comedy.
You may not come out humming Gareth Farr's tunes but you will certainly enjoy his lively, toe-tapping musical parodies and pastiches; everything from The Three Tenors as a barber shop quartet, G&S, Lloyd Webber, Fiddler on the Roof, Jimmy Durante, a Jamaican calypso, a Polynesian song and many more.
The first half is A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Trojan War and the second half is Carry on Odysseus. The plots do get confusing particularly as most of the cast play five or six roles each, but you don't have to know your Arsinoe from your Achilles heel to make sense of the complex family relationships of either the gods or the warring Greeks and Trojans; just go with the flow.
Paul Jenden's lyrics, like his ingenious costumes and his fast-paced direction, are witty and funny though some of his rhyming is a bit stretched (prettier/ Ithaca) and the only weak spots in the show are when sentimentality creeps in with a love song between Achilles and Patroclus which is meant to be taken seriously shortly after we had heard a similar Lloyd Webber-type love duet being hilariously sent up, and when, briefly, some of stories become too bloodthirsty to be amusing.
The cast, under the musical direction of Michael Nicholas Williams and his band, sing, dance, and work their buskins and high-heels off never letting up for a second. Robert Tripe (4 roles) nearly stops the show as Circe singing about pigs and disgusting men as does Jason Ward Kennedy (6 roles) with his cigar chomping Cyclops and Emma Kinane (5 roles) as a Carmen Miranda-like Caribbean calypso singer who just wants to cheer everyone up after all the Greek tragedy.
Sarah Lineham (5 roles) is the face that launched a thousand ships, while Louis Solino (5 roles including the Trojan horse) is the faithful Penelope who loves a goat (shades of Albee). Aidan Bell plays both Priam and Odysseus with marvellous aplomb, an excellent voice and a powerful stage presence. Lyndee Jane Rutherford (5 roles), hidden under a thick black wig as Cassandra screeching Die! all the time is hilarious, as she is as a dumb Aphrodite in a shocking pink wig, and when singing a love song about all the time in the world when a few minutes before she was moaning that eternity sucks. David Goldthorpe plays Hector and Jennifer Fouhy and Katrina Ladd are the chorus.
Troy will shake off the winter blues.
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