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