Frogs: A (Late) Review of the Classics Play
January has been and gone, and with it went the annual event of the Classics Department calendar: the play. Every year the department, both students and lecturers, collaborate to bring together an ancient play to excite, awe and enlighten their audience, a sure-fire way of proving that we may study the ancients, but that the traditions and delights of the Classical world are far from dead.
Last year’s play, Medea, took on an appropriately dramatic tone so this year I was pleased to see the department were taking a break from murdering children to put on a much more light-hearted production. Frogs.
For those of you who haven’t read, studied, or even heard of it, Frogs is a comedy written by Aristophanes. The playwright was also known as ‘the father of comedy’, and was renowned for his satirical and often extremely rude plays, which took contemporary figures and events and often made a mockery of them.
Frogs features gods, demigods and poets in a rather entertaining adventure in which the god Dionysus travels to Hades in an attempt to bring back the poet Eurypides. Complete with a clever slave, a chorus of amphibians, disguises and toilet humour, Frogs is everything a Greek comedy should be.
As always, the Classics department did an excellent job in pulling off the play. The cast were chosen extremely well, many of them embodying their characters with such spirit that it was easy to forget that I sit next to them in lectures every week. I loved the creativity of the costumes and props, particularly the swimming hats for the chorus of frogs and the clever use of a trike instead of a donkey for Xanthias.
However, for me the best part of the play was the imagination that went in to staging the songs. It is always a big risk to make a play a musical, but complete with catchy tunes and simple yet effective dance moves, the cast and crew really pulled it off. I particularly loved the transformation of the debate between Aeschylus and Eurypides into a rap battle, adding a contemporary twist that really carried the comedy across from the ancient world to our generation.
All in all, a huge (although decidedly quite late) congratulations is owed to all involved, whether in the Classics Department or not, for their fabulous efforts. I really enjoyed my evening, and hats off to director Kelsi and everyone who took part. I kick myself every year for not doing it, but how you all have the energy to write essays as well as rehearse for something that intense is beyond me!