Callisto: A Queer Epic

Pleasance Dome (venue 23)
3rd till 29th Aug (not 15th)

It takes a lot for daytime theatre to captivate me. I normally find myself fidgeting or my mind wanders from the plot as thoughts turn to lunch.

No chance of that with this play. I was hooked from the very beginning. The only thing that kept annoying me was the similarity to Cloud Atlas in some respects.  That’s more my issue than something amiss with the writing.

Howard Coase’s new play is set across four points in time; 1675, 1939, 1975 and 2223. In each time there are 2 people who love each other, whether they are the first recorded married lesbian couple in England, a brilliant young scientist and his deceased lover’s mother, an American housewife and a female pornstar or an artificial intelligence and his creator.

Tragedies and intrigues interweave as our audience hurtles back and forth, from one to another. The acting from Forward Arena is magnificent. If there were any outstanding performances, they’d be from Phoebe Hames whose wry delivery of humour and pathos was a delight and then Nicholas Finerty with his ability to play a fragile and innocent sentient and emotionally aware programme was in stark contrast to his portrayal of an egotistical misogynistic pornographer in the same play was beyond impressive.

The little theatre in the top of the Pleasance Dome was like a TARDIS transporting us all back and forth.  The characters were complex and nuanced, the writing sheer perfection.  Two of the premises are based on historical fact, the other two fictional.  The piece reaches perfect balance in terms of loves gained and lost, identities explored and secrets uncovered, all the while with the presence of  Callisto coming through, she who was only seduced by Zeus when he appeared to her as the Goddess Artemis to seduce her.

This was simply the most deftly set and played out piece of theatre I’ve seen these past few years. Simply a remarkable show, beautifully presented.  I absolutely adored it!