Misfortune is all too prevalent in this world today. Many often ask why it is that Gods or other eternal beings do not seem to intervene. Some even give up on the idea of a God at all.
Thomas Parrish is one such person. The result of his reflections is presented in SUTCo’s latest production ‘Jackdaws’. The play follows Ray Sterling, a downtrodden and disillusioned young millennial who after a rowdy night out on the town at the local bar, ‘The Jackdaws’ finds himself in limbo, between the world of man and the world of the gods.
It is here that he encounters Hermes, a mediator who introduces him to the Gods on Mount Olympus. Parrish takes these deities of Greek mythology and turns them into debauched pastiches of the posh ruling classes, dressed up as childish clowns in a constant state of inebriation and anarchic commotion. The introduction of Ray into their closed world confronts them with the reality of earthbound life, where your means of survival depend on having “a piece of paper with the Queen’s face on it.” As Ray realises, these gods have not been down to earth for years. So, he drags them down from off their mountain, to let them face the horrors of ‘chaos’.
Parrish’s script is well-written and at times, witty. As the play develops, as does the text which becomes darker and more allegorical but also finds itself marked by an obvious moralising of the issues. Yet, the mood is recovered by Carys Williams sparse set design, Sam Costello’s ominous lighting and Stephen Geller’s foreboding soundscape.
As for the performers, Callum Tipton adeptly charts Ray’s transitioning mind-set, as he comes to realise that he “never had any real problems”. The Gods are absurd and farcical with highlights being Margaret Smith’s shred and menacing Hera to the excellent comic timing of Laurence Hunt’s promiscuous Dionysus and Matthew Hutchinson’s pompous Poseidon.
The haunting apparitions of the three ‘sisters’, in murky shrouds, alongside the evocative vocal snippets from Phoebe Phillips’ Lucy, eerily overcast the already uncomfortable atmosphere.
Overall, despite the prolonged running time, Parrish might be onto something with this fable of denial and the loss of innocence.