Walthamstow High Tide Festival, 26th September 2018
I think it’s safe to say you’ll never have seen Thor and Loki quite like this before. Based on the Norse Gods of myth and mystery, rather than the Marvel Comics version, in this take on the classic tale Thor (Henry Blake, who also wrote the piece) is an effeminate and sensitive young man and Loki (Alice Keedwell) is the daughter of a giantess who has no idea that her father is Odin (Bob Harm). Odin’s obsessed with war and wants to wipe out the giants, but unfortunately for him, and all of Asgard, they have plans of their own.
A rip-roaring musical with extremely catchy songs, from the get go this is a remarkable piece. The script is tight and very funny, the songs are shockingly fun, and the cast are also truly exceptional, doubling and at times trebling up, and even more impressively play the instruments when not acting or singing on stage. There’s not a weak link amongst them, all pull off their roles with aplomb, but special mentions should go to Bob Harm, Laurie Jamieson and Alice Keedwell who have incredibly striking singing voices.
Blake’s perfect as this particular version of Thor, an effete and cultured individual, and a pacifist to boot much to the horror of his father, and desperate to be taken seriously for his poetry rather than his fighting prowess. Meanwhile Loki’s smart and perceptive, but determined to fit in with her largely violent tribe. She wants to join the army, led by Thiassi (Laurie Jamieson, sublime in all of the roles he takes on), but they reject her, so she finds another way to make it in to Asgard, disguising herself as a human.
There’s songs about destiny, talent, love and sex, and they even find time for some satire of Trump, as Odin decides that the best way to protect Asgard is to build a wall around it to keep everyone out. But it backfires when Thiassi tricks them by going undercover and building an enchanted wall which will trap them and never allow them to leave. Throughout there’s some killer lines, like Loki’s “Who would have thought humans could be xenophobic and judgemental?” and a great joke about a prophet and mini-disc players, and all of them elicited a lot of laughter from the audience, as did many of the songs. There’s some fun audience interaction too, with one person chosen to represent Freya, Odin’s daughter, whilst another gets to squash a tomato. Which may not sound exciting, but the dialogue surrounding it made it a very funny moment.
I have to confess that at first I wasn’t sure where they were going with the idea of Thor being so camp, until it turns out he’s attracted to Thiassi, and vice versa, and this leads to a beautifully fitting ending for both. Indeed it’s a happy ending for all, which led to everyone in the audience departing with massive grins on their faces.
Thor and Loki is a delightfully funny show, the songs are superb and this is an outstanding piece of musical theatre, one which deserves a transfer to the West End if there’s any justice in the world. Which of course there isn’t, but I truly hope that in this case there will be.
4.5 / 5