A BYTE OF ANCIENT GREECE. School Sheet Music 18 The Bramblings, London E4 6LU. Age range 9-12
Devotees of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure will probably enjoy this play by Paul Stevens with music by Irene Bull and Simon Proctor. When Nicki, Jazz, Eros and Curly, the Key Stage Kids, find themselves back in classical times, they bring with them all the attitudes and language of youth culture. Zeus is a "real shrewd dude," "a Mega star who's all the rage".
They meet Archimedes, who tells them about some of the discoveries associated with his name; get turned to stone by Medusa before Perseus comes to their rescue; and return to school full of smart answers for their teacher who shows symptoms of being a Gorgon.
It's all cheerful and fairly harmless fun, though it does seem unfortunate that Greek civilisation is patronised in a way that would be unacceptable for a contemporary non-European culture. The children's assumptions aren't called into question; rather, they're mildly intrigued by random bits of myth and history that have nothing deeper to teach them.
The songs are predictably in the school show genre: a water calypso, a rock and roll alphabet number and, slightly more interesting, a slithery chromatic solo for Medusa. Some lines are simply barbaric; anyone rhyming home and Persephone ought to be imprisoned by Pluto for all 12 months of the year.