Zeus on the Loose at Fire Vauxhall
“If you don’t leave here tonight with an STD, we haven’t done our jobs properly!” cries Dean McCullough, playing our host Apollo. Despite this promise, Zeus on the Loose isn’t as outrageous as you might think. This cabaret mashup of aerial performances, acrobatics, dance, ballet and comedy plays fast and loose with Ancient Greek legends. This is a visually compelling show which will get you in the mood for a night out, although it’s not as shocking as it claims to be.
Hera, Zeus’s wife, is concerned when she discovers that Aphrodite has a twin, Lilithyia, and together the sisters have enough power to overthrow the Olympian gods. To stop this happening, Hera enlists Hades (played by Vicky Vox) to take Lilithyia down to the underworld in exchange for protecting Hades’s new lover Medusa. If anything happens to Medusa, Hera promises to go down to the underworld herself – which is something her horny husband Zeus (Michael Afemare) wouldn’t object to.
Dean McCullough brings enthusiasm as the host, but his segments feel too long and the audience participation is a little awkward – perhaps because we’re not drunk enough to appreciate it. There is another slightly uncomfortable moment during Zeus and Hera’s feast when they introduce their guest – the Egyptian Goddess Isis. There is an uneasy feeling in the room as Isis and her backup dancers perform Walk Like an Egyptian and it takes a few moments for the spectators to get back into the swing of things. It may have been safer to have introduced the Goddess Io, who unlike Isis was canonically involved with Zeus, to avoid any misunderstanding and discomfort.
The aerial and acrobatic elements of the show are a clear highlight and illustrate real skill and precision, especially in such a small venue. We are wowed as the performers hang in an upside-down split and cascade around the stage holding themselves up with purple curtains. The dancing elements are also visually compelling and a lot of fun to watch – especially the sensual foursome number in which this show lives up to its decedent promises.
A screen which displays a visual backdrop of Olympia – complete with moving clouds, as well as the underworld (expect lots of lava) – is a fun touch and helps set the scene. The lighting is effective at adding drama and contributing to the overall club vibe of the production – if you can handle strobe effects. Vicky Vox is fun as Hades and is clearly used to managing a rowdy audience, but it is Michael Afemare who steals the show as a charismatic, ridiculously randy bisexual Zeus.
Zeus on the Loose is at Fire Vauxhall from 25th September until 19th October 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.