[star rating =4/5]
STEPHEN Fry was greeted by the audience singing him happy birthday at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on Saturday night.
The entertainer was slightly embarrassed and told the Edinburgh International Festival audience to quieten down to allow him to begin his two and a half-hour long retelling of Greek mythology.
He has taken on a difficult task by trying to bring an entertaining retelling of these myths that have been passed down through the ages, each of them slightly altered over time with different oracles adding their touch to the story.
Fry’s trilogy is told in three stages: Gods, heroes and man. Each show has a focus to dissect the thousands of stories and where they have been added to over the years.
In touring a finely cut version of his book retelling the Greek Myths, Fry hopes to bring us together imagining we are at a campsite listening to the oracle tell these fascinating tales.
A rather fitting metaphor he chooses as he later tells of Hestia subbing herself out for Dionysus – the goddess of the hearth for the god of wine. Hestia believed her place was on earth.
Fry would replace certain words to add humour to the rather serious and quite violent early tales of the gods that led to the creation of the earth.
For example, the Greek myth behind the creation of nature, which resulted from Kronos, the god of time overthrowing his father, Uranus, by cutting his penis off and throwing it over Greece with his “love custard” spurting out and creating nature.
This technique is used throughout the show, which helps to lighten the mood, and actually helps create a unique and captivating performance as Fry switches from his black leather chair to standing.
He often would act the characters out changing the sound of his voice at key moments rather than simply narrating it to make his performance more engaging, but sometimes the voices didn’t help depending on who he was trying to portray.
He has added a rather effective gimmick to help engage the audience – asking the oracle to a game of mythical pursuits, which allows Fry to meander from the show and explore other ideas.
The audience ended up choosing an exploration of words and their relation to Greek and then the other with Fry’s relation to the myth of Pandora’s Jar.
This led to a fascinating insight into his brain. He argued the internet is similar to the jar, as it brought all these delightful things in a virtual world before trolls and malware corrupted it.
He even goes as far to compare the creation of robots with the creation of humanity – arguing there will be the same debate Prometheus and Zeus had over giving them fire.
Fry is amusing, intelligent and a real joy to listen to as he enthusiastically tells a condensed version of Greek Mythology, from the gods being a single entity to the creation of man finishing off with the story of Prometheus’s punishment.
It’s enjoyable to join Fry as he avoids contemporary politics in favour of a more family friendly show that makes the Greek myths more easily accessible.