Review by Fury
“I don’t do assimilation, I do adaptation”
In Aristophanes’ The Frogs, the god Dionysus goes down into the underworld to bring back the poet Euripides. On his way there, Dionysus meets the far older Aeschylus who claims that of him and Euripides, he is the better poet and as such he should be brought back to the land of the living.
Both segments of Outer Urban Project’s Poetic License cleverly mimics the difference between Euripides and Aeschylus. Euripides is portrayed as a flashier, more “now” poet and Aeschylus is portrayed as one of ‘the greats’.
For the opening, Divine Favour were the Euripides representatives wowing the audience with truly masterful harmonies influenced by Gospel and Hip Hop. The Outer Urban Projects string quartet was the Aeschylus, playing a wide range of very familiar classical music with phenomenal skill. Contrary to the plot of The Frogs, neither was lorded over the other as the opening performances finishing on pieces that married both their styles.
In the second portion of the performance it was mentioned, more than once, that it, itself, was not a play. I think it’s fair, then, to talk about the performance as though it were a chorus. Lacking any set, Greek plays used choruses in conjunction with two main characters to set the scene, enact the various minor parts and comment on the two characters – often to make jokes at their expense.
Poetic License’s chorus was interesting in that it was enjoyably haphazard. My date commented that it made no efforts towards a cohesive plot line – which is somewhat to be expected with a devised reimagining of the Greek play – but instead focused on transitioning and giving weight to each voice and each story within it. The broad spread of age and experiences were discussed comically and seriously. Kominos spoke from the equivalent of a pulpit, merging tone and style with content to make comment on Christianity and the human condition. It was very funny. In my favourite segment, there was talk about being crippled and how that toxic masculinity that produces a tough ego was hiding an intense vulnerability about being in love. Other memorable moments included covers of Portishead and Blackbird.
Having studied The Frogs in high school, I was deeply appreciative of the fact that the Outer Urban Project’s Poetic License didn’t try to educate the audience on the complete nuance of what they were doing. I was scrambling back twelve years into my memory to try and glean the full picture of what they were doing but even I knew that there were aspects I was missing out on. I enjoyed it, though, and I think that a production such as this doesn’t need a full perspective in order to be an engaging work of theatre.
Fury is a writer, advocate, SJW and trans activist based in Melbourne’s suburban west. They have toured, written, bent and broken across Melbourne and Australia for the past 4 years. They manage their own website(/s) at The-Australasian.com and thisisnotapipedream.com. They were once described as the Andrea Gibson of Melbourne.