01 Jul 2019
Director Nikki Bleyendaal says of the creative process, “You’ve got to have fun in order to make it fun.”
And right from the get-go – from the moment Dionysus (Oscar Gosling), God of Wine and Theatre, and his trusty, yet put-upon servant Xanthias (Ciaran Huntley) appear – it’s clear everyone behind the junior drama production of The Frogs is having a whole lot of fun. The sheer craziness of the story, the madcap quest and the passion and energy of the cast definitely make for a memorable night at the theatre.
Dionysus, despairing of the dreadful state of modern media, resolves to bring back good taste and high culture by retrieving Shakespeare (William Olsson) from the Underworld. Helped by a henpecked Hercules (Alex Scott), Dionysus and Xanthias set off, but their plan goes seriously awry when, while crossing the river Styx, they’re captured, accused of elitism and put on trial by an army of reality television loving demon frogs – led by Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Joel Fulford) aided by Psychoactive Toad (Jim Luisetti) and featuring Poison Dart Tree Frog (William Law), Cane Toad (Jasper Johnson), Horny Toad (Ed Davidson), Tomato Frog (William Pryor) and more, including Hermin (Ollie Jones), who looks suspiciously like a well-known green Muppet. Dionysus doesn’t help their case – “I’ll eat your legs for dinner!” – but Xanthias manages to talk their way out of the perilous situation …
Eventually they meet Persephone (Lucy Aitken), the reluctant Queen of the Underworld (#MeToo), and God of the Dead and King of the Underworld Hades (Ryan Primus). But before Shakespeare can leave, he has to defeat his literary nemesis Jane Austen (Daisy Prosser) and prove he is the greatest writer of all time. Jane presents Pride and Prejudice: Froggy Style, while Shakespeare uses the frogs to recreate Romeo and Juliet – and wins.
The original The Frogs by Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes poked fun at Athenian society. That this ancient comedy has survived for over 2,400 years –transformed into The Frogs: A modern adaptation by Don Zolidis and brought bang up to date by College – reflects the timeless power of satire to amuse, entertain and turn the spotlight on our world today.
“The kids really took ownership of The Frogs,” says Nikki. “They were very involved in the devising process, especially for the song and dance routines and in updating some of the text. Their energy is what gives the show life. It’s totally down to these incredible, fun, crazy children.”
The Frogs was staged in the Old Boys’ Theatre for three nights only, from Tuesday 25–Thursday 27 June.