Sunday, January 10, 2016



Common Ground Theatre Company at the Wolsey Studio, Ipswich


Ipswich is well served for alternative pantos – besides Aladdin [starring Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee] at the Regent, we've been offered the rock'n'roll Sword in the Stone at the Wolsey, Holy Mackerel at the Sir John Mills, and now Justin and the Argonauts, ending its tour in the Wolsey Studio.
This year's offering from Common Ground is a typically off-the-wall, on-a-shoestring show, packing in loads of Greek mythology, tons of puns and groan-aloud gags, plus some catchy songs by director Pat Whymark.
All very enjoyable, even if still a little rough at the edges. The cast of five, all of them masters of the shameless style, is held together by newcomer Matt Jopling, who plays the narrator and hero, the weedy 1930s schoolboy Justin whose Aegean cruise somehow turns into a romp through the ancient world of gods and monsters.
The others all play countless roles. Julian Herries is the Ancient Greek Heracles, as well as Zeus, the old thesp Pelleas, a Gorgon, a Yorkshire Prometheus and many more. Lorna Garside is the tomboy Atalanta and Medea, Alice Mottram Hera and Acrustes, and Joe Leat is excruciatingly funny in a host of juicy character roles, including the groundsman [at Peggy Mount School], an Irish Centaur, a sulky Orpheus and a tiny Eros.

Running gags include lunch box delicacies and the “Interval” - the strait between Scylla and Charybdis. Lion wrestling, pickled onion jar opening, the golden fleece hairpiece, the squid and the kraken, all ensure a pleasurable quest round the wine-dark sea, an evening of merry myths and surreal silliness.

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