It seems that I am becoming something of a regular visitor to the Hammersmith Apollo (really rather fittingly named for this last visit). In the last year, I’ve been to see Greg Davies, Flight Of The Conchords, The League Of Gentlemen and, in this latest visit, Mr Stephen Fry.
It was a somewhat different show to the others listed above. Heroes (or, to give it its full title, Stephen Fry Live! In Heroes) was part of a promotional tour to promote his latest book of the same name - a follow up to Mythos which retold the origins of Greek myths. This time around, Heroes focuses on the exploits of the mortal and semi-mortal individuals who also loom large in Greek mythology - Jason, Hercules (or Heracles), Theseus, and so on.
Included as part of the ticket price was a hardback copy of the book itself which was an especially welcome bonus. There was something heart-warming about looking round once we’d taken our seats to see a large number of people sitting around with their noses buried in the same book. This was clearly my kind of crowd.
The show itself took the form of a storytelling session / reading in which Stephen Fry either walked the stage to talk off the cuff or sat in a comfy armchair with side table to read directly from the book. In the hands of a lesser entertainer, this could run the risk of being a dry affair but Fry is a master of his art and knows how to keep an audience’s attention. His obvious passion and enthusiasm for the subject also shone through and his translating of these ancient tales into a format and form which is relatable and understandable to a modern audience was extremely effective (in a similar way to Neil Gaiman with his recent work on Norse Mythology). In fact, so swept up was he in the first half of the show in the stories he was telling, that he had to cut short some of the planned tales for the second half as he was in danger of running long (something which I’m sure the Hammersmith Apollo is pretty strict on).
All in all, I’d say that if you get the chance to see Stephen Fry hold court in front of an audience (whatever the subject), go for it. The man certainly knows how to be engaging, informative and (unsurprisingly) funny.