Friday, November 17, 2006

Re-post: Odyssey - Apr 05

From Monday, April 11, 2005

I've been to see a brilliant, modern performance of Homer's Odyssey at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds this evening. Performed on and around a central stage (which was in itself a feat of engineering) by a cast of 7 all-singing, all-dancing, incredibly talented actors, it held me spellbound the whole way through.

I was expecting to be thoroughly bored: we've seen traditional Odysseys before and I've never found the story interesting, but I was fascinated by it tonight. In modernising it David Farr, the scriptwriter, had managed to weave in current issues - mainly that of immigration. At one stage Odysseus is kept at a detention centre with exiles from Troy, who were portrayed as being similar to our Eastern European asylum applicants.

The amazing stage morphed fluidly and constantly from being a ship with a climbable mast, to the detention centre, a cave, various islands, a life raft, the city of Troy complete with giant horse (made of bedsteads), the land of the dead and Odysseus's living room. It was all done with lights and a few minor adjustments by the actors. The actors morphed too - each one (except Odysseus) playing at least 5 parts - most played more than 10, one after the other, blurring together and yet each one equally identifiable, distinguishable and, more important, convincing. I remember feeling really stupid in the drama classes of my early adolescence when we were forced to practice expressive acting, but on the stage tonight I finally saw it done properly. Why didn't they tell us that was what they meant?

Hats off to them all, anyway: Robert Bowman (Odysseus), Colin Mace, Stuart McLoughlin, Agni Tsangaridou, Mia Soteriou, Dave Fishley and Stu Barker. Masters of their craft. And to David Farr, for heroically injecting new life into a story that previously seemed (to me) dead.

posted by Gill at 11:53 PM 0 comments

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