In a Co-World Premiere with Polka Theatre in England and Clwyd Theatr Cymru Theatre for Young People in Wales, Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre is currently presenting their version of Minotaur. This new play, written by Kevin Dyer, was directed by Alan Dilworth for its Canadian premiere.
In Minotaur, a boy named Freddie (Jakob Ehman) gets a mysterious text message saying that he needs to save his father (Jeffrey Wetsch) from the hardships of war, but he is then met by an ancient queen named Pasiphae (Karen Robinson) who tells him that he needs to go back to the past, as Theseus, to fight the Minotaur. I was fascinated by the idea of mixing a contemporary story about family with Greek myth, and thought that it would work well for a children’s theatre piece. The connection between the two time periods is never made clear, however, and I left the theatre still not understanding why Freddie had to kill the Minotaur.
The acting is superb, with Ehman, Robinson, and Bahareh Yaraghi, who plays Ariadne / Gypsy Queen, as stand outs. Jung-Hye Kim manages to represent both our contemporary world and the world of Ancient Crete with a wonderful set. Simon Fon has also choreographed a fight sequence that is, undoubtedly, the comedic highlight of the show, where Theseus faces off against twenty-nine nephews, played by the ensemble.
With all of these elements in place, Minotaur is consistently entertaining. I did leave wondering what age the piece was best suited for, however. It is advertised as being best for children from grades 4-8, but a good amount of the humour in the piece relies on having significant knowledge of Greek mythology. Aside from this aspect, there is also a decent amount of expletives. Though the theme of family and loyalty is clear and well-explored, the fact that Freddie’s father is at war is barely touched upon, and seems like both an under-developed plot point and an odd one to throw into a show for youth.
As a Greek mythology enthusiast, I did enjoy Minotaur, and would recommend it for young people who are equally enthusiastic about mythology. I do think that the script needs further development to reach its full potential, but with premieres in three countries, I have no doubt that this is not the last that we will see of the piece.
Minotaur is playing at Young People’s Theatre until April 13. Tickets $26-32. For more information, visit youngpeoplestheatre.ca.
photo credit: Cylla von Tiedemann