Cassie Muise & Tyler McKinnon
Petrichor Productions and Prickly Pear Productions
Underbelly, Bristo Square
God Catcher is a musical reworking of the Ovidian version of the Greek myth of Arachne. Eschewing the traditional story of the over-proud weaver of ancient Hypaepa, this instead retells it as the story of a sweet and humble girl, taught to pull the shuttle by her mother and madly entranced by the stories of the powerful Greek Goddesses.
But when tragedy strikes, young ‘Nene takes to weaving in public to sate her grief, and her skill in creating images of the Gods catches the angry attention of the Olympians themselves, leading to her being locked into an impossible Catch-22 contest with Athene.
This is a shockingly entertaining musical, with songs that soar and performances that genuinely lift the roof off the building, taking what could in lesser hands have felt like a plodding piece and making it feel modern, vital and resonant. It’s also undeniably a lot of fun, with the cast clearly enjoying themselves as much as the audience.
If there is an aspect to the production that undersells it, it’s that the costumes and staging have the feel of a high school play. It’s not that it’s a bad look, but with the music and performances feeling like you’re at a West End show, having everyone parade round in what looks a little like whatever white jeans and boots they had in the closet doesn’t match the standard.
There’s a heavy and definite feminist undercurrent to the piece, despite the Arachne myth being one that traditionally was about hubris and women against women. But God Catcher reframes this by putting a male hand into almost every step, tricking, coaxing, limiting or altering the paths of those involved. It’s also a fairly blunt message of remembering the hidden women of history, as well as those wronged in Greek mythology, which is rather an in-vogue topic in recent art, and across a few plays this Festival Fringe.
Overall, this is a genuinely entertaining musical, and a play that could easily stand a longer runtime. The ending comes a little quickly out of nowhere and feels like a final act has been short-cut for the sake of brevity. If only there were more, so my plea to the creators would be: don’t stop here on the edge of greatness; keep weaving.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan