Edinburgh Review: Confused in Syracuse (C venue C until 26th August)
How could you not love a play in which a giant white centaur becomes separated from its backside after its umbrella is struck by lightning? Ridiculous and absurd from beginning to end, “Confused in Syracuse” is a physical theatre piece by St Petersburg-based OPS Theatre. The performance is structured around two loose narratives; a love triangle between a blue-skinned god and his two competing lovers who stumble on a Pandora’s Box, and the unfortunate afore-mentioned centaur. Blending mime, slapstick, frolics in a tin bathtub, and occasional outbursts into arias (in Greek), the company does an impressive job of wordlessly communicating the plot basics and creating interesting characters.
The five-strong cast all pull their weight in keeping us fixed on the action (even the back end of the centaur gets his chance) with their ironic contorted facial expressions and funny little gestures. There is so much energy on stage your mind rarely has the opportunity to wonder what exactly is going on here. This is probably a good thing. To be honest, there’s little (if any) intellectual substance to this play, but that is one of the things which makes it great. “Confused in Syracuse” deliberately doesn’t explore weighty issues or make clever points, but it is an hour of hysterically funny entertainment and pure escapism. What a welcome relief after nearly two weeks of mentally-exhausting classic play revivals and student drama cleverness.
You could describe “Confused in Syracuse” as a Marmite show. If you like pantomime and are comfortable with things not always making sense, you’ll probably love it. If you like your theatre a bit more clear-cut, this probably isn’t the show for you. Either way, there are some absolutely hilarious moments, and some which are just plain bonkers.