Blending Aristophanes’ 405BC comedy The Frogs – an endorsement of tradition over shallow innovation - with a satire on the production process in contemporary theatre, is the conceit behind Spymonkey’s oddball extravaganza.

The question of how best to bring the classic into ‘the now’ and whether the clown-theatre company's version of ‘the now’ is even worth presenting is given a trippy twist.

Meta-theatrical detours and slapstick japes further stockpile a mish-mash narrative in Carl Grosse's script. The great playwright Euripides (fear not, the schoolyard joke ‘Euripides trousers and you mend them’ has it due moment) has died, and Athens is falling into disarray without regular performances of his elevating works.

Ham & High: Jacoba Williams and Aitor Basari in The FrogsJacoba Williams and Aitor Basari in The Frogs (Image: Manuel Harlan)

Dionysus, God of wine, revelry and – yes, theatre – decides he must travel to the underworld to bring him back. Toby Parks dons a comedy toga to become strongman Heracles, Dionysus’ half brother, and sets off with his Spymonkey partner turned slave Xanthias (Aitor Basauri) in tow.

The pair make a pleasing double act: posh-boy Dionysus with a garland and wig of flowing locks meting out endless instructions to his balding sidekick. Milking an exaggerated Greek accent, Xanthius defers to his ass repeatedly – a mop in place of a steed - then eyeballs the audience to halt their sniggering.

Dionysus and Xanthias meet a range of gods and creatures to test their resolve, all in ludicrously OTT costumes (giddy designs by Lucy Bradridge) and Jacoba Williams is dazzlingly confident as she morphs between characters.

Ham & High: The Frogs runs at The Kiln Theatre until March 2The Frogs runs at The Kiln Theatre until March 2 (Image: Manuel Harlan)

Directed with panache by Joyce Henderson, the first stretch of Monty Python-esque silliness is fantastically fun. But the chaotic narrative takes a wild turn too many when the meta references digress into post-pandemic funding travails or Peter Brook’s ‘two worlds’ theory about the risk of overacting and falling into voids between scenes.

The question of how to move forward creatively following the death of their company member Stephen Kreiss is dramatized with impressive honesty.

‘Sometimes we’re all just frogs, blissfully unaware.’ True. But as an extended metaphor, this overstuffed plot with garish visuals - exemplified through one gigantic carnivorous, show-stealing frog puppet – doesn’t help us escape the charge.