Playbill Pick: Mythos: Ragnarok At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Mythos: Ragnarok At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The 2022 hit with professional wrestlers playing characters from Norse Mythology returns to the Fringe for a second throwdown.

Mythos: Ragnarok

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.

Last year, while I was in Edinburgh, I was scrolling through the Fringe listings. I came across something called Mythos: Ragnarok—a play based on Norse mythology, performed by professional wrestlers. Do I know anything about wrestling? I do not. As a child of the '80s, I am of course aware of Hulk Hogan, but my wrestling knowledge begins and ends there. 

Do I know anything about Norse mythology? Well, more than I do about wrestling, which isn’t saying much. I read Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories, conveniently called Norse Mythology, a number of years ago. And I’ve seen Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Oh, and I’ve seen the movie Thor: Ragnarok, so there’s also that. Anyway, it fit into my schedule, so I went. It was in a small theatre on the second floor of the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose. And despite my limited knowledge of Norse mythology, and my non-existent interest in wrestling, this campy, epic wrestling play drew me in. 

I was thoroughly entertained, and baffled at how these performers were able to lift, punch, and body slam each other every night without seriously injuring each other. Such is the magic of professional wrestling, I guess. That, and some truly excellent fight choreography. But beyond fighting, there was also the thing that truly makes it theatre: drama

Flash forward to 2023, and Mythos: Ragnarok is back at the Fringe, and so am I. But this year, thanks to its success last year, its venue has been changed to the much larger Assembly Roxy. The Assembly Roxy is a converted 19th-century church in Edinburgh’s Old Town. And its beautiful architecture is the perfect backdrop for the show. The audience now enters the space through a dimly lit hallway, walking alongside tall arches that almost made it seem like the audience was walking through Valhalla (in Norse mythology, Valhalla is the hall that’s presided over by Odin—the king of the gods). Having the audience on three sides of the ring at the Gilded Balloon may have been more evocative of the seating at a regular wrestling match, but the architecture of the Assembly Roxy really brings an epic grandness to the show.

Mythos: Ragnarok

When I was standing in the queue outside the Assembly Roxy, waiting for Mythos: Ragnarok, I overheard a father tell his son, “Remember, it's not a wrestling match. It's a show.” 

Yes, we get a story of Odin versus trickster god Loki, along with Thor and his hammer, Fenrir, Freyja, and various other gods, goddesses, and even giants. It’s not 70 minutes of straight up wrestling—it is a play after all, and there are longer scenes of dialogue. But every time the heavy metal music gets turned up, and a new challenger enters the arena, it’s like we really are at an adrenaline-pumping wrestling match. Characters glare at the audience when their opponents get cheers instead of boos. The audience groans every time someone gets punched or slammed. And we’re rooting for the good side to win. 

It’s a fabulous, ridiculous marriage of theatre and wrestling. 

And, as Ed Gamester—the multi-talented writer, director, producer, and star of the production (as Odin)—lets the audience know at the curtain call, this is currently the only play in the world performed entirely by professional wrestlers. So—and I apologize in advance for this—if you’re wrestling with what to see at the Fringe this year, this is one show you do Norse want to miss.

Mythos: Ragnarok is playing at the Assembly Roxy through August 27. For tickets, click here. To learn about more Playbill-recommended shows at this venue, click here.

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