STAGE REVIEW: The Odyssey @ Arts Centre Washington (13.03.19) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Odyssey is one of the earliest examples of literature, an epic poem spanning over twelve thousand lines, featuring a cast of at least seventy named characters, documenting the complex and heart-wrenching story of Odysseus’ trials and tribulations.

Considering this, it’s incredible to see The Pantaloons so successfully perform their incredibly low budget, comedy musical adaptation with four actors in just a couple of hours. This production of The Odyssey might have featured a 1970s Butlins’ sandpit aesthetic (shovels replaced swords, beach balls were frequently launched into the audience, and Polyphemus was imaginatively blinded by a luminous orange parasol), and it may have had gratuitous Game of Thrones references and a daring exploration of border control issues and the refugee crisis.

Yet, this fun, honest, emotive, and affectionate portrayal of the Greek hero absolutely engages not only with the original text, but with the original function of the text. Greek epic poems were all about entertaining a crowd, telling the story with just a dash of political commentary, and most importantly, having fun doing it. For all the good a gritty, high budget action movie might do for retelling Ancient Greek myths, they definitely don’t do it as authentically as The Pantaloons managed to do.

 

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