Fringe Review: Ben Hur

Published: Thu 4 Mar 2010 02:21 PM
Fabulous, rollicking, fun!Review by Patti Huxley
Ben Hur: The Epic
Featuring Simon Smith, Eric Amber and Derek Flores
The Fringe Bar, Cnr Vivian and Cuba Sts
3 – 6 March, 8pm
Have you seen too many experimental, devised dramas this Fringe? Are you in need of a thoroughly entertaining, affordable night out? Then Ben Hur: The Epic is most certainly for you!
This show tickled my funny bone bigtime and joyfully delivered on its simple promise - 3 men presenting Ben Hur on a tiny stage in just 70min.
I've not seen the films or read the Ben Hur book but, as the cast make clear at the beginning, this is not a prerequisite to enjoying the night's proceedings. Ben Hur: The Epic walks a deliciously fine line between staying true to the original story, whilst also tagging in modern references, gags and audience participation. There are cheeky riffs on the 1959 film, recurring gags and skilfull breaks in the 'fourth wall' to involve us in the action. The result is reminiscent of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner's 2000 Year Old Man.
Derek Flores, Eric Amber and Simon Smith are a power team. Each actor plays to his strengths: Derek as baddie Messala, Simon as Judah Ben-Hur and Eric as multiple characters in between. They are all experienced performers and improvisors, who demonstrate a great sense of comic timing. They knew when the scene or joke had run its course and didn't drive on into boring. Eric was a particular pleasure to watch, bringing a childlike glee to every character he played.
I felt like a kid at a pantomime, compelled to participate in the action, cheering on characters and the (hilarious) audience participants. Ben Hur: The Epic doesn't have a moral or a message, it's just pure Fringey, low-fi entertainment and it's brilliant fun.
Press release: Ben Hur: "Romans And Chariots And Lepers!
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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