The Bakehouse Theatre has a reputation for reinvented Grecian tragedies, and Scrambled Prince Theatre Company's performance of Euripides' Alcestis is no different. The Grecian classic is notable for its simultaneously tragic and comedic elements, and the company adapt that into a kind of bawdy Scottish wake/drinking marathon, complete with traditional Celtic dirges and drinking songs provided by The Fates (Darcy Drakes, Tess Hider and Maggie Filor) and chorus.
The classic revolves, as so many of these Grecian plays do, around some tragic yet nonsensical act of God, in this case Apollo (Brodey Ward gloriously camping it up) granting his buddy the King of Parties, Admetus (Paddy Leahy), freedom from his fated death. Thanatos (Eliza Stone) is well pissed, but Apollo cajolingly convinces them to take someone else in his place. Admetus' father (Felix Smith) doesn't want any of that shite, and typically his beloved wife Alcestis (Heidi Neale) steps up to take a death sentence for her husband because he got pished with a god one time. Heracles (Cooper Thomas with some solid comedic chops) rocks up to help out his "comrade-in-arms" Admetus, heading off to the underworld and bringing some lady who might or might not be Alcestis back with him, but Admetus isn't allowed to know. And that's the end of the play.
Scrambled Prince seem to sense how ridiculous (and not a little misogynistic) these Grecian epics are, and lampoon their fallacies with gusto. The caricature allows them to make fabulous queens of sun gods, sullenly deadpan straight men of death gods and queer bedfellows of demigods and kings. This is where the production works best — poking fun at the often misplaced reverence given to the classics and their staging.
Where it works less well is perhaps the sheer goofiness and skit-like format overwhelming the more sombre song movements and general pacing. Their Alcestis seems rushed, then slow, then rushed again; not helped by the cast having to bump out immediately after the curtain. It's difficult, between the drinking songs and the vulgar comedy, to catch any scent of the grace or virtue that we associate with Grecian classics, but maybe that's their point.
Nonetheless, it would be hard to find a more entertaining rendition of these stuffy epics than Scrambled Prince Theatre Company's Alcestis. With a host of talented singers performing traditional Celtic songs, it often has a haunting quality to it. The dramatic pacing could be tightened up, and some of the comedic performances are stilted, but nothing enough to ruin the delightfully camp atmosphere.