Review: Monsieur de Coubertin’s Magnificent Opymlic© Feat!, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, York (From York Press)
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Review: Monsieur de Coubertin’s Magnificent Opymlic© Feat!, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, York
11:42am Friday 23rd March 2012 in Theatre
Monsieur de Coubertin's Opymlic© Feat, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, tonight at 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 613000.
I was reminded yesterday that there were only 127 days to the start of the London 2012 Olympics. Only 127! I am already feeling a bit of Olympic overload so was Riding Lights' Monsieur de Coubertin's Opymlic© Feat, a new comedy about the founding of the modern Olympics, going to tip me over the edge?
With a cast of three playing more parts than I actually managed to count, Riding Lights must take Gold for packing non-stop humour and fast-paced historic and cultural detail into a first-class performance.
The comedy charts the founding of the modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 thanks to the vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He wants to re-invigorate the world with the values the ancient games symbolised: peace and civilisation, arts, religion and philosophy.
Journeying through M. de Coubertin's life from his birth in Paris France, via Rugby School and Thomas Hughes'snovel Tom Brown's School Days, to Athens in Greece, this comedy draws its endless humour in a most intelligent way. The media influence of sport; the cultural and political differences of European countries; the economic crisis faced by many countries, especially Greece; and the ridiculous bureaucracy of the Olympic Committee all become the subject of many subtle and not-so-subtle jokes. The audience clearly enjoyed it all and so did I.
This comedy does, however, manage to keep its feet on serious ground as it recalls some of the more difficult times Monsieur de Coubertin encountered. Not everyone supported his vision or shared his values but through the determination and persistence he, like many of the characters woven into the performance, triumphed over adversity. The stage set is contemporary and in keeping with the comedy's desire to strip the story of the modern Olympics (or should that be Opymlics?) back to its origins.
Packed full of really interesting facts and figures and amazing stories of human achievement, Riding Lights' Monsieur de Coubertin's Opymlic© Feat renewed my faith in the real aims of the modern Olympics. I am actually looking forward to London 2012 now.
• Monsieur de Coubertin's Opymlic© Feat, Riding Lights Theatre Company, Friargate Theatre, Lower Friargate, York, tonight at 7.30pm. Box office: 01904 613000.
Tonight's performance forms part of a Riding Lights national tour. Visit ridinglights.org./opymlic for the full itinerary, more information and online booking.