Mouths Of Lions are a young theatre collective hailing from Camden, and on Thursday 8th October they performed their first show outside of London in the university’s own Workshop Theatre, which was a pretty big deal for them. Their play, aptly named Superfunadventuretimes, is a creative, comical and clever look at pop culture and the tropes that help make up our favourite stories.
The actors don’t need elaborate sets or costumes to tell their story, instead using placards to label characters, and creating costumes out of the basics – the knight carries a feather duster as a sword and the warrior has armour made of cardboard. It gives the play a delightful light-hearted feel immediately, more like children playing dress up with what they can find, than costumes. But that of course is the idea – as the characters in the piece go on a quest, the subtle message is that we use stories and films and yes, theatre, to dress up and escape ourselves.
There is laughter abound, especially when the actors introduce themselves as characters from Harry Potter, and then their corresponding roles in Lord of The Rings too, before finally becoming the characters in their own piece. Just as our most loved franchises are built on stereotypes, such, the actors are saying, is their own. Like a film too, the play starts by presenting us with the end of their quest, before travelling back to the beginning to guide us through the events, almost via flashback. Like a fairy-tale, we are quickly reassured that there is a happy ending.
As the play unravels there are knowing nods to well-trod narratives in fiction – a knight who once beaten pledges his alliance to the victor, a magical instruction book, a mysterious dark cave that they must explore. Scenes that could be tricky to portray with their limited means are instead set against music. Kate Bush’s ‘Hounds Of Love’ is a dramatic backdrop to a magic conjuring scene, and very funny too.
Mixed with the fun of the quest there are a few moments where the actors strip away their adopted personas and deliver small personal monologues, telling the audience about their dreams as children, or about a Japanese ritual to rid the house of bad spirits, which are touching to hear. Interspersed too are sections where the actors reflect on the big questions, like what different things make a hero, and who their hero is. One of the answers is ‘My mum – because she’s my mum’ which is a lovely, realistic break from the Hero trope the rest of the play so accurately depicts.
All the young actors are talented at switching between the comical over-the-top acting of the quest, to the quiet sincerity of the personal sections. The play as a whole is incredibly self-aware in order to make fun of itself, and very knowing when it comes to pop culture and our expectation of archetypes. Consistently funny and incredibly imaginative, Superfunadventuretimes is all that it promises to be.