An 'all singing, all dancing' version of the mythological Trojan War is an intriguing prospect. Created and performed by Napier University Drama Society, Horseplay – The Troy Musical has no doubt garnered many local supporters, but unfortunately proves disappointing in the end.
The story is narrated by Homer, and follows Paris, Prince of Troy – a likeable protagonist who is banished soon after his birth following a prophecy of disaster and ruin. Interwoven are various recognisable characters from Greek mythology, including Kings, Queens, Gods and Goddesses.
But the script also dips in and out of more up-to-date references; scenarios using the TV show Blind Date and a parody of a Sister-Act-style scene are used with the metaphorical backdrop of Ancient Greece. This has an incongruous, nonsensical result. I didn't quite understand it, and didn't feel it was clear why there was a brief appearance of an American Gospel singer (although, actually, this was the best-performed scene in the show), or how she suddenly fitted in with a cast of otherwise all-Greek characters.
Although the script is confusing, it is the acting which really lets the production down. While it wouldn't be out of place for an amateur uni group having some fun with their mates, it stands in competition with a plethora of other student groups on the Fringe, many of whom are excellent – and don't have the benefit of such a top-notch venue and time slot. And while I recognise that budget is always an issue at the Fringe, the costumes looked too much like something from a school play.
I do think there would be potential here if the cast had some further training in movement, voice and comic timing, together with firm direction away from poor copies of caricatures. There is some very pleasant music, with a well-put-together score, and the work is solidly supported by able musicians. The choreography is clearly well rehearsed (I definitely wouldn't describe this as 'all dancing' though!), and the group numbers are tight and well-sung, with some strong harmonies. The actor playing Cassandra has a lovely clear voice with a very pretty tone – her solo was a high point.
The cast were certainly enthusiastically keen, and credit is due to them for trying something new. Unfortunately though, there are just too many weaknesses to make this production one I could enjoy.