Review: MYTHOS: RAGNAROK – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2024 at Umbrella Revolution At The Garden Of Unearthly Delights

The twilight of the wrestler-gods of Asgard.

By: Feb. 19, 2024
Review: MYTHOS: RAGNAROK – ADELAIDE FRINGE 2024 at Umbrella Revolution At The Garden Of Unearthly Delights
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Reviewed by Ewart Shaw Saturday 17th February 2024.

Ragnarok, the destruction of the Norse gods has inspired sagas, operas, and film franchises.

This production from the United Kingdom, presented by The Mythological Theatre and Phil McIntyre Live, is no low-key affair. It is preposterous in concept and execution but bold, brave, and entirely entertaining. It is full-on and headstrong. A bunch of non-actors, heavyweight wrestlers, and stunt performers, male and female, throw themselves into the action with complete disregard for personal safety. They are so strong a contrast to the lithe and elegant acrobats elsewhere in the Fringe. There comes a moment when you realise that this is an almost perfect format to tell these stories. Let’s face it, the Norse, and probably their gods, didn’t look like Marvel stars.

It’s far more wrestling ring than Wagner’s Ring. The conflict plays out on a low platform, designed to amplify the noisy impact of the bodies being slammed and dropped onto the surface. It certainly adds to the excitement.

Ed Gamester, who produced, wrote, and stars as Odin, has gone back to the original texts and you meet characters unfamiliar to many. While the story begins simply with excuses for a bit of ‘biffo’, as it continues, it darkens. There is incest, there is murder, and betrayal, lots of baring of fangs and howls of threat. The show is stolen by Mikey Reece as the divine trickster Loki. Smaller than the other men, he is lithe and playful. His final scenes with Odin add an emotional depth to the story, which is memorable.

The costumes and makeup by Melanie Watson are a grab bag of fabrics and textures, smears of red and blue. The many tattoos are genuine. One clever reference is to the belts of power worn by various leading deities. These are the championship belts that wrestlers compete for in the real world.

If you are interested, I’d suggest checking out the World Wrestling Federation and the Royal Rumbles. These are occasions when battalions of fighters clamber into the ring and the prize goes to the last man standing. Those wrestlers know how to throw and be thrown, and these know all the tricks and all the routines. You just have to remind yourself of that as those bodies hit the ground, get up and fight again.

I chose a ringside seat and ended up with a fur-clad berserker dead at my feet. Just like old times.