THERE’S nothing new under the sun, as Ecclesiastes would have it. We might think that the cult of celebrity is a modern phenomenon, but of course it’s not.
And it’s just as important to be careful what you wish for now as it ever was.
If someone suggests you go to the pub to see a play about darts that will explain at least one of The Classics to you, you might think they had begun their drinking day before the sun passed over the yardarm, but you’d be mistaken.
Will Gore’s brilliant updating puts Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex into hilarious and totally comprehensible perspective, as we follow the saga of the country boy who dreams of being the darts world champion, replete with pop star wife and Essex home with swimming pool.
Rex Thebes threw his first 180 at the age of four, and he’s been certain of his destiny every since. Even when his unfortunate parents decided on an evening walk to co-incide with a local farmer’s foray in a lightless combine harvester, our Rex kept on throwing. The oche was his, thanks to the tireless encouragement, training and care of his chum Kezza.
Egged on by Disco Dennis, he consults Mystic Magdalena, and she prophesies that his hopes will become reality … but at a price.
And so the saga begins.
The Wassail Theatre production, directed by Tim Bell and performed by James Peake as Rex, the astonshingly talented and versatile Bronya Deutsch as at least seven other characters, and Greg Hall as the DJ and several others, opened at West Coker before a three week tour of (mostly) pubs in Someset.
Like its predecessor Wassail, The Giants – all about Yeovil Football Club – this is a show firmly rooted in the county, and the many local references will continue to delight audiences as the tour progresses. But it’s about much more than that – a monumental theme encased in beer and pub camaraderie, encapsulating all human emotions in a musical, magical, hugely entertaining whole.
Do see it if you can. It’s popular entertainment that packs a heavy punch, right on your own doorstep. It’s apparently the second of a trilogy. I can’t wait for the third instalment.
See Rex the King at West Coker on 19th May, at Ashbrittle Village Hall on 20th, The White Hart at Wiveliscombe on 21st, The Rose and Crown (Eli’s) at Huish Episcopi on 22nd, The Kings Arms at Easton-in-Gordano on 23rd, The Tropicana at Weston super Mare on 24th, The Royal Oak at Crewkerne on 25th, The Theatre Shop at Clevedon on 26th, St James Wine Vaults in Bath on 27th and The Pitcher and Piano at Taunton on 31st May. In June it’s at the Brewer’s Arms in South Petherton on 1st, The Barton Inn at Barton St David on 2nd, Wells Little Theatre on 3rd and The Montague Inn at Shepton Montague on Sunday 4th June.
Photographs by Paul Blakemore