Photos – Tobias Moore

Psychopompos. There’s a title to be reckoned with.

Hermes, son of Zeus and Maia the cave woman, was given the grave title of Psychopompos, usher of the freed souls of men to the netherworld. That’s a pompous psycho nomenclature if ever there was one.

As played in writer director James Hartley’s Death in the Pantheon, he is a bit of a nebbish, although a real mensch just the same, ranging from minor suspect to detective’s side kick.

Set up like a cosy Agatha Christie whodunit though the locale is not a country estate, The Orient Express or a boat on the Nile but Mount Olympus, no less, Death in the Pantheon has all the usual suspects in the Greek mythological hierarchy. I guess you could call it a murder mythtry.

There’s Zeus, of course, the notorious swan inseminator and thunderbolt wielder; Poseidon, pissed off trident toting seaman; hot headed Adrenalin junkie, Ares; dipsomaniac Dionysus; helluva guy, Hades; Hera channelling Sybil Fawlty and Aphrodite channelling Blanche Du Bois or Scarlett O’Hara. 

They’re all suspects in the murder of Hephaestus, who had the effrontery of giving knowledge to the Greeks in the form of an astrolabe.

In the role of Miss Marple we have Athena, athletic with shield, a sort of Wonder Woman of her age. She questions and quizzes and quashes alibis and motives of the assembled accused, whittling away at witnesses and accomplices until there was one from eight responsible for the slaying.

These ungainly gods with strange and wandering accents play free range on an interesting set by Victor Kalka, a suitably nether-worldly confection.

And to what end this laboured, lumbering murder mystery lumpen in the lap of the gods? A mystery without suspense, a sleuth in pursuit of charisma as much as criminal behaviour, a denouement of decreasing momentum.

Death in the Pantheon, with no chorus just chaos, plays more like Death in a Pantomime and brings to mind Casca’s quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – “it’s Greek to me”.

Event details

Flight Path Theatre presents
Death in the Pantheon
by James Hartley

Director James Hartley

Venue: Flight Path Theatre | 142 Addison Road, Marrickville NSW
Dates: 13 – 22 June 2024
Bookings: www.flightpaththeatre.org

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