Now with a string of sold-out dates behind it, the show Mythos: Ragnarök presents the Norse sagas as a series of wrestling bouts between the Gods.
While some scholars may balk at the concept, this high-action production has its origins in a deep-rooted love of the subject matter on the part of its creator and lead star, Ed Gamester.
In Gamester's Mythos, the gods Odin and Loki struggle to overcome primeval giants, rival gods and goddesses – and each other's ambitions.
Storytelling through wrestling
The Viking Herald caught up with this stuntman and fight-arranger between shows.
When asked how long it took him to come up with the idea, he gives two distinct answers: "More than 20 years to think about it, and about a day to write it. I've always loved the Norse sagas and their engaging way of storytelling. When I was at university, I did a module on Old Icelandic, just to be able to understand them better in the original language."
Photo: Mary George
With more than 50 TV and film productions behind him, the ever-active Gamester conceived of Mythos: Ragnarök both as an escape during the Covid lockdown, a potential winner should work prove elusive if ever live audiences returned.
"Although wrestling has a bad rep and is seen as low theater," he says, "I saw it as a very dramatic way of portraying these stories. I deliberately removed the ring element from the stage so that it's much more of a play. At the start, I walk out and set the scene with a monologue so that people know what they're about to see."
"Although the Norse sagas are part of our own history," says Gamester, referring to the British Isles, "in fact, a lot of people don't know that much about them."
Having started out in wrestling before his long career in more mainstream entertainment, it didn't take Gamester too much of a root around his contacts book to find the kind of artists he needed for his production: "It's a very physical performance, so there's a lot of rotation. The audience doesn't see the same show twice".
Photo: Mythological Theatre/Press
These spectators packed out London's Cockpit in February and should flock to see it at the Brighton Festival in late spring, then back in Edinburgh this summer. This was where Mythos: Ragnarök earned such rave reviews In 2022.
"I'd love for this to tour internationally. We've had interest from Reykjavík and Stockholm, where they should understand the characters immediately. Then there's the possibility of a film adaptation…"
The performance runs for 90 minutes and is only recommended for viewers over 12 years of age. It features strobe lighting, scenes of violence, and occasional bad language.
"It's more of a play than a lot of people might think at first. It's still developing as a piece of living theatre.
"It doesn't quite work by live-streaming. It needs to be seen in the flesh. It was written to be performed in front of an audience."
As for any criticism that Mythos might cheapen sacred texts, Gamester points out one essential fact: "It's meant to be fun! It's so cool to see audiences re-engaging with Norse myths in this way".
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