by Lynn on August 17, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

The Odyssey

Plays at various locations in Ontario: Aug. 17, LakeviewPark, Oshawa, Aug. 18, ScugogShoresHistoricalMuseum, Port Perry. Written by Homer (not Simpson). Adapted by Rick Chafe. Directed and designed by D. Jeremy Smith. Costumes by Melanie McNeill. Music composed by Tom Lillington. Sound by Verne Good. Lighting by Dan Gallow.

Starring: Christopher Darroch, Sedina Fiati, Chris George, Janick Hebert, Lori Nancy Kalamanski, Tim Machin, Sarah Machin Gale, Andy Pogson.

Produced by Driftwood Theatre Group, The Bard’s Bus Tour

I was only able to catch this show at the end of its tour. There are two performances left and well worth a look.

Usually D. Jeremy Smith, the creative, tenacious, gracious Artistic Director of the company programs a Shakespeare play. Not this year. To shake things up he programmed what he calls the greatest adventure ever, The Odyssey, Homer’s epic tale of Odysseus and his exploits in the 10 year  Trojan war and his 10 year journey home. (GPS obviously was not invented in the time of the ancient Greeks).

The epic story is nicely adapted by Rick Chafe and includes all the stories you would expect: the seven-year sojourn with the sultry Calypso; the battle with the Cyclops; trying to resist the Sirens and their lovely singing; battling the winds and wills of the gods who were none too accommodating to get him home; and the most harrowing ‘battle’ of all, trying to convince his long-suffering, patient wife Penelope, that he, this old, gnarled man, was really her husband come home to her. Then of course he had to kill the 100 suitors who had been bothering Penelope for three years, but that was a trifle.

I wouldn’t miss a production by Driftwood Theatre Group if at all possible, mainly because of the direction by D. Jeremy Smith. His productions are economic without losing any of the colour or flavour of the stories he is telling. The playing area is a simple, raised square platform. There are a few props. The lighting is simple as well.

But the imagery that Smith creates is stunning. We’ve all see churning water created by characters holding and fluttering blue swaths of material. Smith improves on this by having several bands of blue material rippling in the wind; character wrap material around them while others hold and billow. The Cyclops is simply inspired. We hear loud, thudding ‘clomps’ as the sound gets closer to the cave where Odysseus and his men are hiding. When the Cyclops does appear, a character holds a long pole in the air, at the end of which is a round open mesh structure with a none-mesh center. The voice is echoing and bellowing.  Voilá we instantly get the sense of the size of the immense creature with only one eye. Brilliant. The production is full of such images.

The cast is passionate and lively, lead by the strapping Christopher Darroch as the young Odysseus and Tim Machin as the old, smelly Stranger (Odysseus in disguise) , come home to see his wife and son.

The shows are performed outdoors with the audience situated around the stage either on blankets or chairs. I love that families come with their young children and everybody is silent, watching with rapt attention.

I love this company. They are well worth a trip to see either of their last two shows.

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