Jon Mason continues to develop a local reputation for his lively storytelling. Last April we were treated to ‘Merlin in the Wild Wood’ but Jon doesn’t hang around. This year he’s back with a new production focussing on myths and folklore in England with a particular focus on Brighton.
The evening started with Jon casually welcoming the audience in the former Rose Hill Tavern – now run as an intimate arts venue – with a blended audience watching at home via video link. But appearances can be deceptive. Our Jon, as narrator, morphs imperceptibly from being a teller of tales to unravelling events that are common place or unusual, and on to stories that are wildly magical or mythical.
He points to ‘old heroines’ like Queen Guinevere who fell for ‘old heroes’ like Sir Lancelot – while being married to King Arthur. What a mess. Still, Lancelot could be seen as a keen European even if he was a bit mythical by nature.
Jon reckons we don’t need to be just stuck with old myths. Let’s look out for our own tales that aren’t just about white men fighting in foreign lands. Take the chalk hills half a mile from the Rose Hill. All those lumps and bumps may be burial grounds or sites of ferocious wars or villages destroyed by plague.
We can remember a few years back the tales of a strange beast seen at dusk near the allotments above Whitehawk. And who was Jenny Lind, now remembered for a sculpture of a train screwed into the brickwork of the viaduct?
Jon reminds us of myths that bring together pop heroes linking our own history and present events. Take the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Abba who strutted their stuff on Brighton’s stages. David Bowie famously sung about people being heroes just for one day. Perhaps The Stranglers were premature in declaring there were no more.
Jon Mason took us on an ambitious and far-reaching historical and mythical journey. At times, it may have been trying to stretch that voyage a little too far in the time available. But this was an excellent and bold exploration of how myths and legends remain embodied in our contemporary lives.
The Rose Hill, Wednesday 19th April 2023