The Cambridge Greek Play 2013, Arts Theatre, Cambridge. October 2013.Three years ago a friend told us about a version of Agamemnon that was being shown in Cambridge, intrigued we went and had a nice time. Intrigued because this is company that only perform every three years and when they do so it is in the original ancient Greek.
The trip didn't start well, one of the party couldn't make it and the main road from Norwich to Cambridge was shut but eventually Mr Norfolkbookworm and I met Rebecca at Cambridge station and set forth to the city. The run of bad luck seemed to continue as a phone stopped working and all the restaurants were full when it came to needing lunch. However we found sustenance and all seemed to be going well.
We had great seats in the theatre, lots of leg room and soon settled in for what we'd told Rebecca was a great experience, yes the plays might be in a dead language but that didn't matter - there were surtitles, no different than a foreign language film...
This cycle two plays were performed Prometheus before the interval and The Frogs after, tragedy then comedy.
Prometheus wasn't to any of our tastes although I can see that if you know the play/Greek it offered a lot more. The plot was simple Prometheus has helped Zeus to over throw his father but then has helped out the human race and angered Zeus. Who has him chained to a rock. The next 55 minutes or so are all about why he is there. With singing. I can see from my studies into theatre why this is considered a good play and I can also see a lot of the aspects of drama that I've been reading about and I mean no offence to the cast when I say on the whole we didn't enjoy this one.
After the interval it was a different matter. The Frogs, and especially this version, is bonkers. The god Dionysus has decided that there are no longer any good jokes being written so he is going to have to go to the Underworld and bring Euripides or Aeschylus back to life in order to have some amusement. The god is however a coward and this leads to much humour, oh and some ancient Greek politics (not that different from our own really!).
You really did have to be there to appreciate how funny and truly mad this play was, the jokes translate from stage to blog about as well as they do from ancient Greek to English - it really was all in the staging. My mind melted when Charon and Dionysus are sitting in a row boat singing in Greek to the tune of O Sole Mio but the surtitles are showing the words to Row, Row, Row your Boat. Oh and apparently Greek frogs say brekekekex koax koax not ribbitt.
The day turned out to be great fun after all and I think Mr Norfolkbookworm and I will try to see the next play in 2016 but this really has reinforced to me that tragedies are my least favourite style of play overall, it isn't just Shakespeare!