Primitive Science, Poseidon: The Story of a God

Review in Issue 12-2 | Summer 2000

One would think that any show that is framed by four walls of misty rain would be a sure-fire winner. Pina Bausch realised long ago that the defamiliarising shock of bringing elements of the natural world into the confines of the theatre can be used to stunning effect, and that’s certainly the case here. With this project, Primitive Science continue their re-tellings of classical myths (following the bowl-over success of Icarus Falling last year), with a wry and witty take on the legend of the god Poseidon, whom they recast here as a frustrated and effete deity who is rather hindered him being god of the seas and all – by a fear of water.

The constant trickling of onstage rain lends a beautiful edge to this production, and is undoubtedly its highlight. Unfortunately, the show itself risks sinking deep into a watery grave. Mare von Henning’s text and direction, though studded with occasional moments of lovely wit and visual delight, are too sombre and lacking in dynamics to keep one engaged. The performances, too, vary from the sublime to the frankly ridiculous, with the mercurial messenger Hermes’ arrival followed by an atrocious bit of song and dance (unfortunately just this side of self-conscious badness).

Following the success of their earlier work, Primitive Science are undoubtedly clambering the ladder of recognition, and I’m sure this will do well, based on what has gone before it. But this is ultimately a disappointing production from a company that have already proven that they can do much, much better.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-2
p. 22