By Ezekiel Wallis
This January, PantoSoc mapped York onto Ancient Greece for their uproarious new show, ‘Hercules.’ The arrogant Argonaut adventurer, Jason (Sky Blaxhall), is admired across Greece for his “charisma, voice like melted chocolate and perfectly symmetrical face.” However, when a conflict between humans and mythical beings threatens their divided society, it falls to his unpaid Intern-naut, Hercules (Bianca Darolti), to set the world to rights.
It’s impressive, given the size of the cast, that every character felt so memorable. Even those with relatively few lines quite literally embodied their roles, with excellent use of physical comedy. The dame (Andreas Heller) deserves particular recognition here, earning some of the biggest laughs of the night for a boozy, libidinous Helen of Troy through gesture alone. Usually a central role in panto, the dame was somewhat sidelined so as to accommodate the large cast, as was the underutilised villain, Agamemnon (Rhiannon Millard). Millard’s standout performance gave this bigoted, power-hungry king a real presence, despite appearing in relatively few scenes.
Writers Shevek Fodor and Sophie Monks certainly worked their Midas touch with a highly entertaining script, drawing on topics ranging from Brexit to Platonic philosophy to the correct pronunciation of Nisa for punchline after punchline. If the show has an Achilles’ heel, it is that certain lines were rendered inaudible – not through a failure to project on the part of the actors, but because only certain key cast members wore microphones. The next show could benefit from some boundary or hanging mics, if the budget will allow it. Head Tech James Bithell deserves recognition for his work with limited resources and for making skilful use of spotlighting and audio cues to ensure a joke never fell flat.
Hercules ran from 24 to 26 January and was directed by Holly Taylor and Kendra Rabbitts. Admission cost £5 for students, £8 for non-students. The Pantomime Society plan to return with a new show in the Summer term.