Mark Bruce Company
Saturday 16th April 2016, 19.30
Choreographed and Directed by Mark Bruce
Odysseus – Christopher Tandy
Penelope – Hannah Kidd
Immortal Man – Christopher Akrill
Immortal woman – Eleanor Duval
Telemachus – Wayne Parsons
Mortal woman – Nicole Guarino
Mortal man – Jordi Calpe Serrats
Calypso – Grace Jabbari
Suitor – Alan Vincent
Scylla – Natalie Dodd
Harpie- Lia Ujcic
All other characters and creatures played by the above cast members
The Odyssey is a narrative dance theatre piece, based carefully on the Homer tale, in modern dress with a first class lighting plot. I’d counsel renewing your knowledge of the outline story on Wiki or wherever first. We didn’t and it’s still highly entertaining and enjoyable, and I recognized chunks of the story (Cyclops, Calypso, the raft he leaves her on, Penelope’s suitors, Odysseus having himself tied to the mast to pass by The Sirens, etc) but I suspect there were many references I missed. I liked Odysseus’s cigarettes that kept getting thrown out.
The cast list is an outline that highlights major roles, though for many sections everyone is doing everything. It’s hard to pick out the many memorable scenes: the sensual scene with Calypso, the man on the spinning wheel with the blindfolded knife thrower, the shock of Father Christmas appearing with scantily clad female assistants to the strains of Frank Sinatra singing Santa Claus is Coming To Town.
The set is a metal circle, which can be transformed into a Greek boat in a few seconds, and behind we often see little dots of light, and a large circle of light. I read the little lights as the view you get of a Greek village at night from the Aegean sea, and the circle as the moon that seems so enormous in the clear sky. Lighting was dramatic, with a murky dark setting most of the time, with yellow spots hitting the action.
The story necessitates a lot of sword work (mainly slashing people’s throats). Having a sword collector son who has worked on sword-based Chinese martial arts, I’d say classical Greek swords were shorter, wider and heavier, but that’s nitpicking.
An excellent example to other companies. The programme, at a modest £2, cheaper than any of the opposition, meticulously list the pieces of music used, including the Mark Bruce guitar linking originals. You get songwriter, classical, opera, Sonic Youth Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan, Liszt, Mozart, Chopin. A heady mix that all blends into a whole.
Overall, an entertaining production with a wide variety of dance styles and music, with the whole cast acting as well as simply dancing. Added vocalizations were part of this. Definitely one to see.