Wednesday, 19 February 2014
The Odyssey - Derby Theatre
The mood was set by a huge curtain representing crashing waves that billowed in front of the stage while the audience took their seats - and was 'sucked' away to reveal an exhausted Odysseus washed ashore. From that moment, I was spellbound. There are some plays that no matter how good they are, still leave time for eyes to wander and attention to drift - not this one! It's fast-paced, bursting with energy, and absolutely brilliant from start to finish. The first half tells of Odysseus' journey and the weird and wonderful encounters along the way. The second tells his homecoming - and touches on the difficulties faced by soldiers returning to 'normal' life, both then and now.
Wole Sawyerr's Odysseus is outstanding - dominating the theatre with his presence and booming voice. The rest of the cast pop in and out of various roles; playing handmaidens and soldiers, sheep and pigs, Circe, Penelope or the simple but effective Cyclops.
The set changes quickly from ship to shore, from cave interior to palace, while the story continues around it - so there's none of those awkward scenery-shifting pauses.
Following on from the Derby Theatre production of Kes, The Odyssey proves just how good regional theatre can be. Who needs London?
I loved every minute - and might even sneak in a second visit.