Through July 15
MYTHOS A Trilogy: Gods. Heroes. Men. Festival Theatre/Shaw Festival
They are names out of the mists of Western Civilization, Kronos, Zeus, Demeter.
The Greeks saw the 12 gods on Mount Olympus as the controllers of their lives, as the manipulators of what happens to them, their creators.
For Stephen Fry, this is the “Gods” section of his “MYTHOS A Trilogy: Gods. Heroes. Men.”
For 2 ˝ hours, he tells stories of the origins of the gods, of the brutality of their predecessors, the Titans, with Kronos killing his children to protect his role as the most powerful Titan of their world, a world in which the later gods will create men and give them life.
The Greek story and the Biblical story of creating life are somewhat different.
Fry performs on a stage set created for “The Magician’s Nephew,” with its 180 degrees surroundings of screens for the projections which help Fry tell the story of the gods.
The gods were not often nice people, from the dirty old man behavior of Zeus and his constant surveillance by his wife Hera to prevent his philandering.
There is also Hades, the god of the Underworld, who kidnaps Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, and takes her to the planet’s depths.
Hades extracts a deal in exchange for releasing Persephone for six months of the year, allowing plants to grow and trees to leaf out and men to survive by growing their food for the coming year.
There are a lot of these stories of the gods in Fry’s telling, of the Titan Prometheus creating man and giving him life, at Zeus’ direction.
Then, to protect his creation, Prometheus gives man fire, against Zeus’ orders.
He pays the price, with Zeus ordering him bolted to a mountain far away, where an eagle will arrive every day and use his beak to open Prometheus’ torso and eat his liver.
Every night the liver would be restored, only to be eaten again.
Eventually, Hercules breaks the chains and frees Prometheus.
As more and more Greeks had more and more time around the fire to tell stories of the gods, more and more stories developed.
They told the story of the natural world, obviously of the growing season, but also the sun and the moon, the storms which roiled the seas and the wars which threatened their society as the gods argued and fought.
While this is a one man show, there is some relief for Fry, besides the intermission.
He takes e-mail questions during the intermission which he answers during the beginning of the second half and periodically allows a member of the audience to choose one of the fruits displayed on the screens and let Fry tell why a particular fruit fits into Greek society and life, with grape a major factor because it’s wine and the Greeks were really into wine.
Even with the breaks, Fry has a chance to demonstrate tremendous erudition about classical antiquity and its constituents.
And, it’s not all something out of Greek and Latin classes back in high school, at least as Fry tells his tales with humor and some of the insanities in the way the gods behaved, especially the stories of Hera constantly on the prowl looking for Zeus and his latest quest after a beautiful woman.
“Gods” is worth seeing, even if you have never heard of Demeter.
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