Unlimited Festival: Hero and Leander at Southbank Centre
Fusing a variety of musical styles with ancient myth, Hero and Leander (Or, I Love You, But Everything’s Under Water) is a charming rendition of one of Ancient Greece’s most tragic stories. Originally conceived as an album, it largely takes the form of a concert, rather than a musical or play. The lead singers – Jack Dean and Sian Keen – take on the roles of the characters and the chorus tells the general narrative in a modernised fashion.
The plot features Hero (a priestess of Aphrodite from Sestos), who falls in love with Leander (a young man from Abydos) during an annual festival. Since they are forced to live apart, separated by the Hellespont strait, Leander vows to swim to her every night to spend time with her. This modern re-telling partly evokes a typical girl-meets-boy affair, but it does still maintain its tragic outcome and the major plot points. There is, indeed, some necessary reduction of the myth’s wider implications, but the same sense of urgency and submission to the Fates contained in the original are retained.
The musical numbers are the main selling point of the show. Through an incredible range of styles, Hero and Leander always remain entertaining; from folk and indie to a bit of rap and even sea shanties, it’s a hugely diverse program that contains something for all audiences. While – necessarily so – the quality of the individual numbers varies slightly according to the band’s natural inclinations, the overall impact is highly engaging. It’s just a lovely new take on an ancient tale, performed competently and aptly by the band of Jack Dean and Company.
As such, Hero and Leander (Or, I Love You, But Everything’s Under Water) is well worth a watch. Featuring a diverse range of numbers and an easy-to-follow modern rendition of a Greek tale, it’s a great and quite unique way to experience mythology in the contemporary world.
Hero and Leander is at Southbank Centre from 11th September until 1st January 1970. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Unlimited Festival (featuring creative projects by disabled artists and companies) is on at the Southbank Centre from 7th until 11th September 2022. For further information visit here.