Yorgjin Oxo: The Man (2005)


Theatre 503
December 7-23

Author:  Thomas Crowe
Director:  Alex Clifton
Producers:  Theatre 503,
                      Pursued By a Bear

Running time:  2hrs


Yorgjin Oxo: Tom Hiddleston
Turga: Kate Donmall
Simeon: Darri Ingolfson
Uncle Quagmire: Denis Quilligan
Marshlander/Priest: Sean Carrigan
Speaker: Georgia Cook
Melanie Mouse: Abbey Tittlemouse

Hiddleston made his London stage debut in Yorgjin Oxo: The Man.

Yorgjin Oxo – The Man review at Theatre 503 London

by Alistair Smith - Dec 14, 2005 (The Stage)

Theatre 503 must be one of the few places in the UK that would take a chance on a play like this.

Set in a world much like our own but inhabited by marshlanders who want to squelch in the mud, firmlanders who want to oppress and enslave the innocent marshlanders, and warrior mice who want to fight and whose speaking parts are dubbed by the other actors, this play is wilfully bizarre.

Five minutes into the production, which is staged in and around the audience, seated on an assortment of hessian sacks stuffed with hay, I was ready to leave.

Yet by the end, the beautiful strangeness of the piece had completely won me over, aided by a quite outstanding central performance by Tom Hiddleston as the innocent hero Yorgjin.

Owing much in its anti-church stance (and the talking mice) to the recent adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Yorgjin Oxo tells the story of an innocent boy playing in the marshes and “smiling into the rain” as he turns first into a slave forced to build a cathedral for his oppressors and finally into a suicide terrorist.

While I’m sure that the play might not be to everybody’s tastes, the imaginative power behind it cannot be doubted. Nor can the quality of the staging, which makes wonderful use of what has typically been a fairly inflexible space.

It may be a little strange for some tastes but for me this play was a gamble that paid off quite magnificently.

Thursday 15 December 2005 09.12 EST (The Guardian)

By Maxie Szalwinska

A play about tyranny largely set in a bog may not sound like an appealing Christmas show, but Yorgjin Oxo turns out to be a ripping adventure yarn.

Young marshlander Yorgjin sees his Uncle Quagmire killed and sets out on a voyage to find Turga, the girl he cares for, after she's abducted by villainous slave-trader Simeon, who shoots small children to perk himself up. He's assisted on his quest by a bloodthirsty, daredevil finger-mouse in a dress, Simeon's sworn enemy.

Yorgjin's innocence is a kind of enchantment. His eyes gleam and he's the kind of guy who smiles into the rain. He's so blissed-out on the beauty of nature he's slightly daft, and girls give him the jitters, yet Tom Hiddlestone radiates optimism in the central role: it's a euphoria-inducing performance, as he grows up before our eyes and inadvertently becomes a hero.

There's flavour and salt to Thomas Crowe's script, and his generous characterisations ensure that good and evil aren't direct opposites here. Played in the round with the audience seated on bales of hay, Alex Clifton's ingenious production barrels along. The show blends grief and happiness, and its hopeful spirit is irresistible.