The Odyssey, The Studio, Royal Spa Centre, April 5 only.
What a brilliant evening’s entertainment!
Slightly worried that I might be in for a heavy evening of Greek mythology in the retelling of Homer’s Odyssey, I was surprised to see the stage set as a beach complete with deck chairs, stripey wind break, beach balls, plastic spades, an array of musical instruments and cast members already milling about.
The scene was set for the re-telling of the entire 20-year adventure of Odysseus, King of Ithaca, in which he encounters Cyclops a man-eating giant, storms and starvation, sirens and gods, and even a visit to Hades. The cast for this epic tale presented by The Pantaloons company consisted of just three guys and one girl – but what an extremely talented group of performers.
The adaptation was written by Stephen Purcell and Mark Hayward who also directed. They studied numerous adaptations of the classic text before writing their own version in rhyming verse. They also incorporated masses of humour, fun, songs, and even puppets. The props were simple and brilliant – for a horse drawn taxi all you need is a couple of plastic buckets for the clip-clopping sound of hooves. The depths of Hades? A torch and a dimming of lights. A storm? A fluttering sheet and some well-rehearsed choreography. Apologies if I’m making this sound farcical – it wasn’t. It was brilliantly done.
Neil Jennings took the role of Odysseus and played it so well with excellent acting, subtle humour and great singing as he faced monsters, temptresses and troublesome crewmen. Alex Rivers who played several roles including Penelope – Odysseus’ wife, Circe and Calypso, was absolutely wonderful, with a voice to match. Christopher Smart was hilarious as Telemachus, Polites and Hermes, among others. And Edward Ferrow was also brilliant as Antinous, Cyclops and Poseidon.
The Pantaloons are a young company dedicated to making intelligent, accessible theatre in an imaginative and innovative manner. As they point out, they have a small cast and a small budget, so the audience have a role to play too. Last night we played our part as sirens, trying to lure Odysseus to his demise with our singing, and we became a bunch of troublesome suitors whom Odysseus and his son, Telemachus have to do away with on their return to Ithaca.
The cast were genuinely funny, outrageously so in places, and delightfully subtle at other
times. The script was clever, witty and fast moving, reducing the audience to stitches at times. But there were touching scenes too. I just loved this.
For more on The Pantaloons go to: https://thepantaloons.co.uk