This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com
Haste Theatre’s The Hideout is a particularly eclectic piece of theatre: a marriage of Greek mythology and 1920s chic, set in a chintzy boudoir, and acted out extravagantly with frequent bouts of clowning, jazz music and dance. It’s witty and imaginative, but a lack of cohesion and a failure to unite the disparate elements into an effective whole ultimately compromises its ability to engage an audience fully.
Jenny Novitzky, Jesse Dupré, and Elly Beaman-Brinklow play the Olympian deities Aphrodite, Dionysus and Hades respectively, who relate to the audience a somewhat loose tale of Theseus and the Minotaur. They are not clad in stereotypical bedsheet-togas, however, but perform in an enjoyably varied collection of costumes: Novitzky in a seductive, tightly-fitting corset; Dupré in a stripped-down jester’s outfit; and Beaman-Brinklow as a whiteface clown, with loose-fitting garments and a painted face.
These costumes are one factor that contributes to the show’s best feature: its aesthetics. Combined with some innovative lighting, the equally eye-catching outfits of Theseus (Taylor) and Ariadne (Elena Constanzi), and some creative physical theatre (one particular scene in which Theseus races around the labyrinth is particularly imaginative), they ensure that The Hideout is an engaging piece to see, if not to watch.
Novitsky, Dupré and Beaman-Brinklow show laudable chemistry for the most part, although their vigour is somewhat tempered towards the end by a plot spiralling out of control: the deities somehow lose control of the story, and Theseus and Ariadne beginning acting outside their mythological brief. The choice to portray Theseus as a macho boxer with a speech impediment is more bizarre than anything else, and there is no observable emotion between Taylor and a somewhat meek Constanzi.
Attempts at audience participation are made throughout, sometimes with genuinely funny results, such as when Theseus enlists a member of the front row to help him confront the Minotaur, but in truth, these attempts are sporadic and conflict with the rest of the show. It is as if the actors have suddenly abandoned their play in favour of stand-up comedy.
Herein lies a problem that characterises much of The Hideout; there just seems to be no reason for its eclecticism. If there is logic behind the idea of three clowns staging a corrupted play-within-a-play of a Greek myth in a 1920s boudoir, it escapes the audience entirely. The Hideout is too caught up in its own ideas, and there is neither the strength of acting nor of plot to sustain such a wild variety of themes. Although a commendable physicality and an arresting design go some way to redeeming it, the play just cannot tame its own imagination.