Tuesday, February 27

Sirens, Men & Crabs – Unity Theatre

With a title like ‘Sirens, Men and Crabs’ it was hard to know what to expect from the award-winning Teatro Pomodoro and their unique take on Greek tragedy. Would it be funny? How true to ancient myth is it? And how on earth do crabs feature? Prepare to go on a journey like never before.

Describing itself as “creating thought provoking, playful theatre for audiences internationally” Sirens did not disappoint Directed by Mark Bell (The Play That Goes Wrong) and produced by the notable RJ Lloyd, this reimagining of a renowned classic story is exceptionally creative and accessible to all. Based in Liverpool but brought together in Paris at Ecole Philippe Gaulier, the company create an environment that makes audience participation feel both edgy and safe.

It’s not funny, it’s hilarious.

Managing to link with the original story of Ulysses, the show has a low-budget, stripped back atmosphere. On first appearance this may induce memories of school plays but don’t be fooled. Props are used to full effect throughout, adding to the charm of the performance, and leave space for the script and technical skill of the actors to shine.

The show begins by introducing its cast of three and the parts they’ll be playing simultaneously before dimming the lights to lead us through an evening of flexed dramatic claws. Crabs – or rather one crab in particular – play a key part throughout.

With impeccable comedic timing the actors quickly build a rapport. Offering a brief, meditative opener, the audience is brought in on the jokes and a communal atmosphere created. What is theatre? Is it what happens on stage, is it the space, the people attending the show or something else? This opening prompt lingers. You’ll leave feeling you’ve experienced the fullness of what theatre has to offer yet still questioning what’s just been witnessed, knowing it was enjoyed but not immediately sure why. 

There is a distinct feel of good old-fashioned entertainment about Sirens Through the playfulness and the frequent laughs, it is easy to forget that this is a scripted performance and that the actors are indeed acting. Their delivery makes it look easy. Flavoured with a dollop of zaniness and a sprinkling of sophistication, the evening evokes the warm fuzzy feelings of panto without the blatant cheesiness. Expect to be immersed.

Stepping on to stage in the most basic of costumes, the audience is greeted by a touch of the comedy to come. The theatre erupts into giggles within the first few moments and doesn’t stop until the end of the show. The cast put their experiences of clowning, bouffon, music, comedy and dance to good use. They have the audience engrossed from the get go, which is no mean feat considering there are only three of them!

Attendance at Sirens is about the shared experience of theatre. There is no need to know about Ulysses before attending because this is a show to connect with in the moment. However, it is easier to follow the plot and find some sense within the performance if you are aware of Greek myths, the structure of tragedy and tools of comedy.

Oozing theatrics, this is one entertaining show. Blending surreal satire and a farcical demeanour, simple props and basic sound effects are used to full effect. If you’re expecting big budget, Broadway bang for your money, this probably won’t be for you. If you’re looking for laugh a minute gags and expert storytelling, Teatro Pomodoro deliver a performance that bursts with creativity and craft. Running until the 9th October at Unity Theatre before moving on to Edge Hill University, you can book tickets via https://www.unitytheatreliverpool.co.uk/whats-on/sirens-men-and-crabs/

Reviewer: Ezzy LaBelle

Reviewed: 7th October 2021

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★