Bringing the Greek epic poem The Odyssey by Homer to the stage is an ambitious and challenging task but this Company of Giants production make it look effortless. Featuring a hefty cast of young adults and smaller primary children, creators Laurel Devenie and Katy Maudlin present a more accessible version of this decades-long saga.
After the Trojan War, Odysseus and his men begin their long journey home to Ithaca. Along the way, their numbers steadily dwindle as they come face to face with a myriad of obstacles. The cast energetically reenact storms and whirlpools as well as portray threatening creatures like the Cyclops and a seven-headed monster using a wonderful blend of creative props, a dynamic set and some really inventive storytelling.
This vibrant epic is a mammoth of a story with an intricate, multi-layered narrative but this adaptation makes it a little less daunting with the cast taking us through it at lightning speed. The sheer number of characters in many parallel and interconnected storylines which take place across multiple landscapes is still quite overwhelming so if you are not too familiar with this tale and Greek mythology, some of the complexities and humor may get a little lost.
I did find the first half quite messy and a bit of a struggle as there is a lot to take in; at times it was hard keeping up with who is who and what’s happening where and when. The acoustics of the venue also meant some of the dialogue got lost under the action that was unfolding on stage. Things does slow down after the interval and having become more accustomed to the characters, I found the second half much more engaging.
The cast truly are a talented group of actors and while there are some stand out performances it’s hard to isolate anyone as the magic really happens when they all come together as an ensemble. They confidently take to the stage and skillfully deliver a range of storytelling styles from beautiful chorus work to dramatic Greek tragedy. Their boundless energy is contagious, and their passion and enthusiasm is incredibly inspiring.
Company of Giants’ Odyssey is a fast paced and action-packed re-imagining of a Greek classic and an all round impressive stage production. Let your imagination set sail on this epic adventure – but hang on tight and be prepared for a wonderfully vivid and exhilarating journey! This is a theatrical piece that you just have to experience in the flesh.
The Whimsical Banana rates Odyssey: 4/5 bananas!
Catch Odyssey today through to Sunday July 30th at 3pm and 7pm at TAPAC (100 Motions Road, Western Springs). For more details and to book tickets, click here.