Review: Theseus Beefcake

The Albany, Deptford
Until 11th March 2016
by Panic Lab with The Albany

In the centre of the stage there’s a wrestling mat, in one corner is Theseus and in the other the Minotaur. As the audience enters they find Theseus and the bull taunting each other with increasingly gruesome acts they say they are going to perform on each others’ genitals. If this seems to blur the line between machismo and homoeroticism that’s because it does.

Theseus Beefcake is a new show by Paniclab a young company which fuses devised performance with a strong physical theatre background to explore the personal and political.

The show is an exploration of what it is to be ‘masc’ in the Grindr sense or masculine in a broader sense. It’s part confessional and part memoir which explores our relationship with masculinity through sex and violence.
Along the way we are treated to some cowboy fantasies with some line dancing thrown in for good measure, a prolonged bout of wrestling and some striking imagery.

What seems most memorable about this piece are the images created and the use of the space. The setting and design are arresting and you feel like if the performance had greater tension they could have created a more complete piece of theatre. The show as it is feels more like a smorgasbord of experiences, ideas and testimonials.

The audience interaction is a highlight of the show as we are invited to do shots with the performers and in the finale given beers and invited down for a ringside view of a very real sparring session.

It’s very clear that these are talented performers with a very insightful piece of theatre but it felt as if it needed a bit more direction to live up to its potential. That said it’s a beautiful and at times hilarious piece of performance in a wonderfully dramatic setting.


© John Fitzpatrick 2016


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