Review: Mythos: Ragnarok (Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose)
Updated: Jul 28, 2023
With wrestling matches of mythological proportions, Mythos: Ragnarok makes a BIG impression
The Edinburgh Fringe plays host to all forms of performance and entertainment: aside from the obvious theatre and comedy there’s dance, music, spoken word, cabaret, circus, burlesque, drag, and so much besides. Isn’t it about time wrestling entered the picture? In Mythos: Ragnarok, from The Mythological Theatre, the gargantuan cast take on the roles of classic figures from Norse mythology: Odin, Loki, Thor, Freyja, and many more besides, and enact some of their most infamous quarrels and rivalries with full-contact fight scenes.
The accuracy of the mythology is something I cannot attest to – half an hour on Google looking up the Norse mythology family tree has done nothing to enlighten me. What I can say is those stories make a marvellous basis for theatre; it has feuds, betrayal, revenge, reconciliation, what more can you ask for? And Mythological Theatre are very committed to telling these stories – to a fault. The performance comprises long spates of exposition, followed by a fight, followed by an extended blackout so cast members can catch their breath and lick their wounds, and repeat. The rivalries and characteristics are there, no question about it: they embody these powerful, egotistical gods completely. But they fail to communicate the context for their bouts in a succinct or theatrical way, so as it is the mythology just acts as decoration for the show’s action.
Photo Credit: Al Veryard
But oh, what action it is. The fights are creative, impactful, and rile up an audience in a way I have rarely seen before. Even the most violence-averse audience member would be hard pushed not to stare slack-jawed at the mayhem on stage. What makes it successful is the fact that the cast are true professionals. They are performers in every sense of the word, and even though the wrestling sequences have been carefully choreographed they still adlib, improvise, and interact with the crowd with the looseness and confidence of a cabaret act or a drag queen. In fact, wrestling has a lot in common with drag, aside from the fabulous outfits of course. Both have local scenes that are vibrant, dramatic, professional, but are also rather intimidating if you have never been before. That is why it is so important to have drag, and now wresting thanks to Mythos: Ragnarok, at the Fringe: it offers a pressure-free, tourist’s way to enjoy a form of entertainment you have always secretly wanted to watch.
When the performance came to an end, Ed Gamester, who plays Odin, tells us that what we just watched was a world first – a performance with a cast consisting entirely of professional wrestlers. Long may it continue. In its current form they may not have struck the right balance between theatre and wresting, but given time and theatre-makers with this much passion it won’t be long until they have the same stature as circus at the Fringe. Four stars.
Mythos: Ragnarok will run at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose in The Other Yin until the 28th of August