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Death in the Pantheon - Flight Path Theatre (NSW)

Written and Directed by James Hartley

A laugh out loud murder-mystery filled with heartfelt, comedic performances

Reviewed by Kat Pech

Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville

Until 22nd June, 2024

You think your family is dysfunctional? They ain’t got nothin’ on the Olympians!

In Death in the Pantheon, we witness a family turn against itself and the outside world, with twists that keep you guessing. However, these are the Gods of Olympus: if they don’t solve their dramas and the murder, it could have dire consequences.

The Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville, tucked in the Addison Road Community Centre in the heart of the Inner West, is an intimate, relaxed theatre space, with certain staging and seating limitations. Entering on the chilly afternoon, I was immediately warmed by the energy from the woman behind the bar-slash-box-office, wearing a fabulous orange blazer and a beaming smile. I walked into the theatre, chose my general admission seat and was happily charmed by the off-key singing, terrible dance moves, and jovial atmosphere from the cast already bringing the energy with a pre-show party.

The show lasted a lot longer than anticipated; being advertised as 80 minutes and going for nearly two hours, the website has now updated the event to reflect a 110-minute run time with no interval. By mid-way through the production, the cracks begin to show in the writing and performances, briefly revived by some extremely passionate deliveries from Ares (Edward Frame) and Zeus (Dean Tuttle). What began as a fun romp now was starting to drag.

Photo supplied by Upper Crass Theatre Company

Death in the Pantheon has a fantastic premise with lots of potential, and provides many laugh out loud moments as well as heartfelt, thoughtful ones. However, both the acting and the storyline need refining in order to keep the tension tight and the comedy from becoming flat. Acting standouts are Jessie Lancaster as Aphrodite, whose sinuous Southern Belle is nuanced and committed, and Cam Ralph as Poseidon, whose variations between drama-king and old-God wrath is complex and believable. Both are on-point with timing and consistently committed; making me laugh aloud repeatedly, as well as revealing hidden depths (Poseidon’s bowl of simply sea-water, for example, was delightful). Frame as Ares lacks depth in the beginning as a dumb-bully boy obsessed with fighting and Aphrodite, his character leaving me cold, until he takes a startling, wonderful turn toward the latter part of the show, when he reveals hidden depths to (and about) Athena (Natasha Cheng).

Cheng's performance is beautiful in the beginning as the uptight, defensive, defending Athena but as the character with the most to do in the play, I found myself desperately wanting to see some more development in her performance, rather than just mild gestures or words; her development doesnt feel as believable, making the ending feel like it came out of nowhere (though her last lines are delivered beautifully and leave the show ending on a really positive note). Other moments felt unnecessary; making Dionysus (played by the fabulously pink-suit bedecked Daniel Moxham) the literal 'God of Wine' give up drinking because of his addiction, felt unnecessary and somewhat preachy, and perhaps more time could’ve been given over to the heartfelt growth that wanted to emerge rather than so much being dedicated to the endless squabbles between Hades (perfectly, prissily played by Bendeguz Devenyi-Botos), Zeus, and Poseidon.

All of the actors each have fantastic moments; it’s clear this is a skilled cast with great talent, humour, and energy, and the storyline should be a fantastic vehicle to showcase them all. However, it needs a lot of sharpening, with more action and determined reaction to really hit home what it was trying to say. Perhaps there were too many characters, an off energy-day on a cold Sunday afternoon, or the limitations of the stage. The stage is definitely prohibitive for the size of the ensemble; The Flight Path Theatre has a small stage with L-shaped seating, and without extra careful plotting, meant there are many moments when the actors are blocking each other or themselves. On more than one occasion, one half of the audience are getting passionately delivered speeches and facial expressions, while the other half get the actors’ backs. This did make it hard to connect. Other limitations include the lighting, particularly the floor-level spotlight, which blinded me more than once.

Death in the Pantheon is definitely worth a watch. With an abundance of retellings around, setting it as a comedic murder mystery is a great point of difference. It’s a fantastic premise with some great acting but could benefit from being shortened and tightened to give it the momentum needed to engage the audience through to the very end and really let the actors shine.





MARKETING: Kevin Rodrigueza

SET DESIGNER: Victor Kalka


Ares: Edward Frame

Hermes: Brenton Amies

Hephaestus: Shiva Chandra

Athena: Natasha Cheng

Hades: Bendeguz Devenyi-Botos

Hera: Susan Jordan

Aphrodite: Jesse Lancaster

Poseidon: Cam Ralph

Dionysus: Daniel Moxham

Zeus: Dean Tuttle



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