JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (People’s Light): A playful retelling for all ages

Visible Fictions’ Tim Settle and Simon Donaldson perform JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS at People’s Light (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Visible Fictions’ Tim Settle and Simon Donaldson perform JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS at People’s Light (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Scotland’s Visible Fictions brings a child-friendly version of the Greek myth of JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, adapted by Robert Forrest, to People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern. Known for its award-winning all-ages programming in addition to its outstanding productions of adult classics, this is the perfect pairing for People’s Light to introduce young audiences to the time-honored tale and to make them theater-goers for life. It will also reaffirm the joy of the theater for grown-ups, who will fully appreciate the humor and playfulness of this play.

Set in the Age of Heroes, a generation before the Trojan War, the ancient saga traces the adventures of Jason and his companions on the ship Argo, through their journey to the edge of the known world. On the quest to retrieve the coveted Golden Fleece and to restore the crown of kingship to Jason, the Argonauts are threatened by bronze birds, a sea monster, Harpies, a dragon, and clashing rocks—all made more funny than frightening in Visible Fictions’ enchanting version, but also revealing to children that the trials and tribulations of life can be overcome by doing the right thing and being brave, even if you’re afraid.

Tim Settle and Simon Donaldson do battle in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS at People’s Light (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Tim Settle and Simon Donaldson do battle in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS at People’s Light (Photo credit: Mark Garvin)

Director Douglas Irvine maintains a rapid pace that holds kids’ attention throughout the inventive 65-minute show, as two energetic storytellers, Josh (Simon Donaldson) and Andy (Tim Settle), simplify the complex narrative, rendering it comprehensible and enthralling for ages nine and above. Their childlike enthusiasm is both silly and infectious, and sure to charm adults and children alike, as they portray more than 20 characters, both male and female, with the low-tech assistance of Ken dolls, action-hero figures, paper boats, and other makeshift props transported in a wooden wagon and trunk.

The current-day retelling is filled with witty references to such post-modern movie classics as Star Wars,Titanic, and Mission Impossible, and the affable actors are first-rate, as they switch roles with split-second timing  and combine direct address (“That was scary, wasn’t it?”) with conversational asides to one another with re-enactments of the mythic episodes. Dramatic lighting and fog, pre-recorded original music and sound effects, and clever choreography using wooden sticks in place of metal swords (all by Visible Fictions’ Scottish design team) succeed in setting the mood and enhancing the action. Like Jason, this production should travel to the ends of the earth, to delight audiences everywhere! [Steinbright Stage, 39 Conestoga Rd., Malvern, PA] March 12-April 4, peopleslight.org.

 

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.