the-odyssey-splendid-productions
Weirdy beardy: image via The Reviews Hub

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub and published here.

Written by Homer
Adapted by Kerry Frampton and Ben Hales
Directed by Matt Wilde, Lucy Cuthbertson & Lucy Hopkins
17th November 2015

It’s one of the oldest stories we know: an epic tale of one man’s struggle to return home. But have you ever seen a version of The Odyssey where the hero was played by a wooden spoon?

Yes, that’s right: Splendid Productions gives us a stripped-back, 75-minute, three-woman Odyssey, with Spoon Odysseus moved along a washing-line upstage to represent his progress towards home. It’s touring theatres and schools until March 2016.

The three actors are all multi-talented, multi-voiced, multi-bodied; they go from rôle to rôle seamlessly, sing, dance, and recite in unison. It’s astonishing to watch one turn instantly from a guffawing suitor into a delicate, dignified Penelope. The few props show the same level of versatility, and the show is somewhat stolen by three magnificent woollen beards, used in various inventive ways.

A series of brilliantly imaginative gimmicks is used to involve the audience. At the start, we are all instructed in how to create a storm, and one teenager is asked to keep track of the death toll. Later, a plucky volunteer is dressed up in a poncho and sparkly swimming cap and led through an obstacle course. It’s all uproariously funny, helped by the cast’s needle-sharp ad-libbing at the expense of anybody who is noisy or late. The only hiccup is when one actor dwells on the sexual symbolism in the story. At a show partly aimed at young people, this (although funny) may go a bit too far.

Don’t choose Splendid’s Odyssey if you dislike interactivity or fear being “picked on”, but if you’re willing to surrender yourself to a fast-paced, silly, inventive show, it’s a lot of fun.

Star rating: **** Silly fun

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