Hero and Leander, Jack Dean Theatre, touring

IT is said that there are only seven stories in the world – most of which come down to us from ancient history through myths and legends, where archetypes of human behaviour and emotion are embodied in gods, goddesses, heroes and heroines.

One of the most famous Greek myths is the tragic story of Hero and Leander. Two young people, Hero, a virgin priestess of Aphrodite at Sestos, is seen by Leander at a festival and they fall in love. Guided by a light from her tower, Leander swims the Hellespont, a notorious short but dangerous stretch of sea between Europe and the Middle East. One stormy night the light is extinguished and Leander is drowned. Hero, seeing his body, drowns herself.

Jack Dean Theatre, one of the talented and innovative companies taking part in this year’s Wells Theatre Festival, has taken this famous story and given it a contemporary, musical spin – boy meets girl at festival, literally a story as old as time!

Jack Dean founded and leads a gig theatre company of multi-talented singers and musicians. He is a poet, playwright, performer, rapper and composer. His work uses modern technology “ to tell stories that wander the lands between myth, memory and history.”

There is a real talent to taking a famous story, giving it a new look (and sound) and retelling it, staying faithful to the original but making it feel completely of today – and this is what Jack and his company do brilliantly in this show. From rap to folk to a rousing sea shanty (from the a piratical Poseidon and his crew of smugglers), the music is instantly engaging.

It is huge fun, accessible, varied, energetic and touching, telling an oft-told, ancient story with passion and honesty. It’s a shame there weren’t more people on Wells Rec to enjoy this terrific show, but the Jack Dean company is a name to look out for!


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