Sunday, 9 April 2017

Keep an eye out for this one.

Writing a review of a play for our local parish magazine is always a little daunting. What if I don't like it? When this happens, I always try to focus on the positives, however elusive they may be. But those who know me can see through my damning with faint praise and can decipher the code. And so we come to last night's one-man show at the Old School: The Odyssey (Greek Stuff). Luckily no need for coded language, it was great. If you have a chance of seeing it as it does the rounds, do. You won't regret it. Here's what I've written for next month's Old School News.
The mythical tales of the Greek gods of ancient times are, by their very definition, epic, heroic and magical. Translating them into a one-man show is, on the face of it, a hiding to nothing in the making. How can you depict storms at sea, enchanting creatures of the deep and sorcerous sirens on an almost bare stage with just a scrap of cloth as a costume? All concerns were quickly forgotten the moment David Mynne stepped onto the Old School ‘stage’ and launched into his hilarious retelling of the classic tale. Utilising a piece of blue material, a stack of wooden crates and virtually no other props, David morphed into a legion of characters: as the story unfolded he brought to life opposing armies and their ensuing battles, the sacking of Troy and the subsequent struggle by Odysseus to return home to his wife and son.

The journey home after victory at Troy took 10 years, during which time Odysseus and his crew (lead by his faithful first mate, Pilates) meet obstacles at every turn. They take on a Cyclops, are lured by Sirens, drugged by Lotus Eaters and Odysseus has a wild love affair with a witch goddess, Circe, who wreaks further havoc by turning his men into pigs. More drama follows as they are drawn into the depths of hell when Poseidon sends a storm to wreck the ship in retaliation for the death of the Cyclops who just happened to be Poseidon’s son. Eventually the hapless Odysseus finally arrives home, only to find that his wife, Penelope, has a queue of suitors trying to convince her of his demise and pestering to marry her. The final moments of this grand piece deliver an unexpectedly brilliant feminist sting in the tail.

Liberally sprinkled amongst the traditional narrative are numerous surreal detours and side adventures casually thrown in to raise a laugh and move the story along. David produced teeny tiny models, created voices and threw the cloth around to suggest costumes. Maybe it’s my age but I’m sure I detected more than a hint of Michael Bentine's Potty Time as David conjured up images with words and sounds.

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