The Bull, the Moon and the Coronet of Stars
Griffin Theatre, May 8. Until June 8
Reviewer's rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Van Badham's two-handed rom-com translates the Greek myth of Ariadne and Theseus into something tonally akin to a contemporary beach novel. Or Mamma Mia! minus the music.
Our Ariadne is Marion (Silvia Colloca), a vivacious if barely tolerated artist-in-residence in a museum of antiquities. Theseus takes the form of Michael (Matt Zeremes), publications officer; handsome, thirtysomething, married, roving eye. The museum itself, represented in Anna Tregloan's design of portable rectangular frames, serves for the labyrinth. There is talk of a haunting, a poltergeist-like presence scratching on the glass display cases, but the beast lurking in the maze proves to be of the two-backed variety.
All does not go well – office romances seldom do - and after giving herself a penitent's haircut, Marion exiles herself to a resort island, ostensibly to teach art to septuagenarian ladies in the tourist shoulder season. It's not long, however, before the Dionysian impulse – personified by somelier and DJ Mark (Zemeres again) - has Marion and her art class in its sweaty grip.
You don't need to be a scholar of the classics to get any of this. Badham's script joins the dots for you in a playful blend of fast-moving dialogue strewn with mimetic asides, and novelistic inner voice. The former is sassy and spirited; the latter (knowingly, one assumes) sounds more like pop fiction (“He was safe, she told herself, because he was married…”).
Badham's images of wine-soaked bacchanals on the beach are terrific, though there are times when you wish the mythological parallels weren't drawn so obviously.
Lee Lewis directs a nimble, fat-free production – so nimble it makes an already lean 75 minutes seem like rather less. No bad thing, perhaps. From the get-go, Colloca and Zemeres are a delight to watch but the characters they portray can't do much more than involve us superficially.