I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
My debut poetry pamphlet is available at www.wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Up the Greeks
The heroes and heroines of the Greek Myths have unwittingly lent their names to numerous nightclubs and restaurants and pop bands (The Lotus Eaters et al). And that's not to mention beauty salons, retail stores, a parcel delivery company and no doubt many more enterprises.
Their legendary author shares his name with a yellow cartoon character.
He employs a beguiling range of accents to differentiate the characters. Paris sounds like he is from BBC Radio 4's The Archers. Hera, wife of Zeus, is as posh as Edith Evans and the head-munching Cyclops could be a villain in a British gangster film.
Fry makes Tiresias in the Underworld sound like Alec Guinness in Star Wars - which he signals to us with a deliberate mistake of referring to "Luke."
Even so, I did get a bit lost with the befuddling assortment of names and their complex inter-relationships and rivalries with each other.
Fry's personal thoughts about the myths are saved for a Q&A session (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we sometimes get to choose which story 'door' he will lead us through - with the aid of the ever-changing graphic screen behind him.
The size of the audience (1,730 capacity in the Lowry's Lyric Theatre) makes audience interaction challenging. But although Fry is not remotely embarrassed by his Herculean knowledge of the stories, neither does he talk down to us. So when required to do so we are happy to cheer and shout out our responses and preferences.
Stephen Fry in Mythos: A Trilogy - Gods. Heroes. Men. Photo by David Cooper.
Most of the evening though is centred around Stephen Fry the raconteur and wit, delivered in a voice that has launched a thousand audiobooks.
I saw the show entitled Men (the other two in Fry's trilogy focuses on Gods and Heroes). The myths are not exactly progressive in the roles given to the female characters. Helen of Troy doesn't seem to complain much about being auctioned as a prize. Or if she does complain, we don't hear much about it.
Elsewhere women are the temptresses and wives - rarely the explorers, voyagers and warriors.
The stories have a strong element of male fantasy, of winning over - or just winning - beautiful women and may have had deliberate subliminal messages to recruit men to armies, when the next war came around.
Stephen Fry as himself in Mythos: A Trilogy - Gods. Heroes. Men. Photo by David Cooper.
But at least the Ancient Greeks were honest about how physical beauty can play havoc with objective decision making. They would no doubt have lapped up Love Island as much as we do now.
Fry has great respect for the myths and how much we owe to them in terms of understanding ourselves and others. But - with comic writing as part of his armoury - he also recognises some of their darkly absurd details. "What am I like?" he imagines Thetis saying when she forgets to dip the baby Achilles in the River Styx before roasting him in Ambrosia to ensure that he becomes immortal.
The poetic images also appeal to Fry of the The Ode Less Travelled and Fry's English Delight (BBC Radio 4). My favourite allusion was to the "magical horses of Troy."
The crown of national treasure hangs above Stephen Fry's head. Maybe the torch of national educator would be a better one for him to clasp and run with. This enlightening and entertaining trilogy of one-man-shows augurs well for the next stage of his career.