Odyssey: You Bring The Boat, We’ll Bring The Storm

Odyssey - Company of Giants

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.

Odyssey BannerI 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.

…with a stranger…: Circus Travels to Stranger Lands

...with a stranger...The carnival is no longer just for kids, folks.  Touted as “arthouse circus”, …with a stranger… brings cabaret and carny to a whole new level in this sublime and scintillating collection of short vignettes delivered through breathtaking aerial dance and impressive circus acrobatics.

Created by renowned circus theatre company The Dust Palace, this visually stunning production is an intriguing study of human nature and the concept of duality.  It explores the idea that intimacy can exist among strangers just as much as it can lack between lovers.

The choreography is heavily influenced by the style of revered Montreal circus troupe Les 7 Doigts de la Main (The Seven Fingers of the Hand) and is performed flawlessly by a star-studded cast of Auckland’s top circus performers.  This extremely talented ensemble display staggering strength and incredible control both on the ground and in the air, defying gravity and contorting their bodies in ways that will leave you awestruck.

Mike Edward and Eve Gordon, who are also the co-founders of The Dust Palace, share an electric chemistry and are simply astounding on aerial silks.  Equally impressive are Rochelle Mangan’s and Zach Washer’s superb skills with the aerial hoop and aerial chain respectively.  Edward Clendon showcases great aptitude with the more ground-based gymnastics and Geof Gilson rounds up the cast nicely as more of an observer of the stories that unfold.

What further enhances this spellbinding evening is the intimate atmosphere that comes from the physical space itself.  The circular stage and cabaret-style seating work effectively with the mood lighting and superb sound design to create a truly immersive experience.  This is a show that really needs to be witnessed live as words alone just cannot do it full justice.

…with a stranger… is a mesmerizing and jaw-dropping visual spectacle and an absolute theatrical masterpiece.  Circus does not get any sexier and more dangerous than this.

The Whimsical Banana rates …with a stranger…: 5/5 bananas!

…with a stranger…  is on at 8pm at TAPAC –  100 Motions Road, Western Springs until June 22nd (no shows Mondays and Tuesdays).  Click here for more details and to buy tickets.

This review can also be viewed on Keeping Up With NZ.

Promise and Promiscuity: A New Musical by Jane Austen

Promise And PromiscuityPromise and Promiscuity – the title itself immediately peaked my interest.  Directed by Ben Crowder, this fast paced Jane Austen parody provides a refreshing, revamped take on the well-known period drama Pride and Prejudice.

Touted as a new musical, I must preface that this production is so much more than just an hour of song and dance.  The well-crafted script is decidedly cheeky and dripping with irony – the witty double entendres and cleverly tweaked names (my favorite: “Fifty Shades of Argh”) bring this 19th century story to modern day, making it more easily accessible.

I was thoroughly impressed by Penny Ashton who was the woman of the hour.  She skillfully plays the entire cast, switching between each character seamlessly.  There are very minimal costume changes however this is not an issue as each character she portrays has a very distinct voice and set of mannerisms that there is never any ambiguity who she is depicting and when.

The stage feels quite cavernous with sparse props but Ashton makes full use of the performance space, moving between different locations in the story with ease and at one point she even breaks the Fourth Wall by inviting an unsuspecting audience member for an impromptu dance.  The music and sound effects provided by “Musical Maestro Par Excellence” Robbie Ellis further bring the story to life.

As with all other shows featured in the Auckland Fringe, Promise and Promiscuity is only on a very short season.  The final performance is this evening at 6pm so if you are looking for some laughs to finish your weekend, head on over to TAPAC in Western Springs!

For tickets and more information, click here.

The Whimsical Banana rates Promise and Promiscuity: 4/5 bananas!

Promise and Promiscuity is a Hot Pink production and is presented as part of the Auckland Fringe.

Auckland Fringe