There and Back Again: An Odyssey
A Show by Marcello Chiarenza
with Patrick Lynch
Music by Carlo Cialdo Capelli
Video director Davide Sgalippa
Interactive programmer Paolo Solcia
Integrated Systems Dario Gaverotti
The Sherling Studio, Poole Lighthouse
11th April 2017, 11.00
The story of the Odyssey …
It’s all smoke and mirrors … really they’re both used … and sand, and water, and models, and silk cloth, and puppets and rocks and bones, and an undulating screen, and narrative and face close-ups and even hair dryers, all set to an atmospheric soundtrack. It takes its title from the more modern odyssey, by J.R.R. Tolkien … but it is the Greek myth.
Patrick Lynch (from CBeebies) is narrating, with a long table with lights and video cameras on one side of the playing area, and a loose floating sheet as a screen on the other. Foot switches were used to operate and shift between cameras. Backgrounds and skies slotted effortlessly into place behind the sand. Rocks were added. Puppets were moved into place. Falling sand created islands. Water swirled. The actor’s eye became the Cyclops in extreme close up. His mouth became the Cyclops feeding. The camera on his face revolved through 360 degrees.
I was lost in admiration. I used to do talks on teaching with video, and my equipment set up on speaking tours was a video player, an overhead projector and an audio player. Eventually a laptop replaced the OHP projector, but I still needed two screens. Then I added DVD to demonstrate that for classroom language teaching, video is better than DVD (you can isolate single frames on a professional video machine, and advance one at a time … you can’t do that with DVD). And I had to give the talk too. It was nothing to the amount of technology and equipment used here to great artistic effect.
Here our actor, Parick Lynch, had the widest multi-tasking task I’ve seen. The projected film showed what he was doing with his hands and the camera, and if it had simply been recorded and shown at the Tate Modern as a video art installation, it would have garnered massive praise. But here it was all being created in front of us and filmed live, whilst doing a splendid narration.
The story of the Odyssey was cut and constructed extremely well too. I took a 13, 11 and 6 year old with me, and all were entranced. The six year old never fidgeted and remained enthralled. I’ll add that I would have been equally entranced if I had gone on my own just to watch.
Most remarkably this was the first show in the tour that Patrick Lynch had done. It could run off and on at half terms and Saturdays for years. It was a clear introduction to the story too.
The word unique is over-used, so I’ll say it only once … it is a unique and richly rewarding theatrical experience. It is half-term, I’d gone expecting a normal kiddy show (I don’t usually review those at all), but this was much more than that.
Comments? Well, it was watch rather than “participate” but on the way in a kid was saying “We won’t have to DO anything, will we?” A heartfelt cry from a boy who had clearly seen (and been dragged into participating) in a lot of children’s theatre. My three were relieved too.
Highly recommended. It’s on tour.