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A Voyage Touched by Magic
May 13, 2014
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WATCH: The Iliad and The Odyssey on Breakfast Television
May 15, 2014

Montreal Gazette reviews The Odyssey

Pat Donnelly, Theatre Critic for the Montreal Gazette, reviews The Odyssey: “Top-notch, highly entertaining theatre for young audiences that also keeps the adults awake, grateful for a refresher course on tales learned long ago.”

Read on Montreal Gazette’s website: Odysseus has plenty of company on his scenic trip home

***

Pat Donnelly – May 13, 2014

First The Iliad, now The Odyssey. Geordie Productions continues its exploration of the Ancient Greek classics at Centaur Theatre with Peter Smith’s adaptation of Homer’s tale of Odysseus, the warrior who took the long, long way home after the Trojan War.

Geordie Productions continues its exploration of the Ancient Greek classics at Centaur Theatre with Peter Smith’s adaptation of Homer’s tale of Odysseus, the warrior who took the long, long way home after the Trojan War.

The same five-member cast that performed The Iliad last month is back for The Odyssey. All actors play multiple roles and share narration duties in a pass-the-puck manner that keeps the pace brisk and the story flowing.

There’s no denying that The Odyssey — which moves through multiple exotic locales peopled by strange, dangerous creatures — offers stronger dramatic material to Smith than The Iliad, which fast-forwards past some of the most exciting details of the final battle in Troy.

In The Odyssey, Odysseus (known to Romans as Ulysses) meets a carnivalesque parade of villains, including a gigantic Cyclops with cannibalistic tendencies. This confrontation makes for suspense-filled moments topped by the hilarity of the manner of escape, which involves clinging to the bellies of sheep.

Director Dean Patrick Fleming has emphasized the adventurous aspects of this adaptation, such as rowing a boat through Hades, as well as its comedic side. It all adds up to top-notch, highly entertaining theatre for young audiences that also keeps the adults awake, grateful for a refresher course on tales learned long ago.

Quincy Armorer holds firm the centre as a commanding yet forgiving Odysseus. Daniel Brochu provides much of the comic relief as the rather dim-witted Trojan sidekick who also appeared, along with his more sober companion (Susan Glover), in The Iliad. Glover also shows a more serious side as the remarkably patient Penelope, wife of Odysseus, forever waiting for him to come home. Karl Graboshas tends to play the heavies, including one of Penelope’s conniving suitors and Polyphemus, the Cyclops.

Pippa Leslie, who plays Telemachus, son of Odysseus, one moment and the witchy Circe the next, catches the eye with her deft transformations, again and again.

This cast works like a sports team doing an exhibition game. They’re clearly having fun.

The props (designed by Marjolaine Provençal) and the costumes and puppets (designed by Marija Djordjevic) are striking and subtly evocative of the period. The minimalist set by Provençal that was used for The Iliad — dominated by a circular screen and featuring pop-up waves from the floor — is back, employed in different ways.

Seeing both plays is ideal. But with The Odyssey, Geordie Productions has saved the better of the two for last. Smith’s lighthearted ending, which suggests that Homer’s epic poem was but a sailor’s yarn at heart, is the icing on the cake.

The Odyssey, by Homer, adapted by Peter Smith, directed by Dean Patrick Fleming, continues at Centaur Theatre, 453 St-François-Xavier St., Saturday at 4 and 7 p.m. and Sunday at 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets cost $18.50; $16.50 students and seniors; $14.50 children. Call 514-845-9810 or visit geordie.ca or centaurtheatre.com.

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