By Flossie Waite
Presented by Polka Theatre and Clwyd Theatr Cymru Theatre for Young People
2.00pm, 26th April 2014
Myths are created to explain the world, to explore human experience, and to teach lessons. They contain fundamental values and ideas that resonate both in ancient Greece and modern day. Connecting the story of Theseus and the Minotaur across thousands of years is not only a great opportunity to show this, but an appealing adventure to boot. Minotaur lacks the emotional depth and clarity of plot to successfully pull this off: far from unenjoyable, it is just undercooked.
The night before his birthday, Freddie receives a mysterious text from his dad, a soldier fighting overseas. Not long after, two figures from ancient Greece appear, urging Freddie to do as the text suggests: look under the huge rock in the garden. There he finds an inscribed sword – Freddie, it transpires, is actually Theseus, sent into the future by his father to save him from being sacrificed to the minotaur. But now Freddie must travel back to ancient Minos, to enter the labyrinth, kill the minotaur and save his dad.
Though the plot was confusing, Minotaur dealt with some important ideas: for instance, Freddie’s realization that his idolized father is flawed. The most substantial moment in the play was Freddie describing what it’s like having a dad at war – constantly prepared for the worst, opening the front door even when no one knocks just to know what it will be like when the authorities come with bad news. But this was a rare glimpse of affecting emotion; often, reactions jarred. Nervously preparing to leave for the labyrinth, Freddie asks his mum, ‘But what if I’m not ready?’ ‘Then you’ll die,’ she says, and shuts the door. Without a believable emotional core to give the action meaning, even a play filled with challenges, danger and fight scenes cannot be gripping.