Presented by Burjesta Theatre
A J J Bond Production
Adapted and Written by Julian Bond
Directed by Mikyla Jane Durkan
The Casa, Liverpool
12th April – 16th April 2016
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
This is the second time I have covered a production by Burjesta Theatre. Their interpretation of the complex and multi-layered story of The Odyssey was equally as impressive as the company’s staging of Doctor Faustus in November.
What struck me most was how much more watchable and involving this adaptation was compared to the mediocre version of The Odyssey I saw, written by Simon Armitage, presented by the English Touring Theatre and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse at the Hope Street venue in October.
They brought Homer’s magnum opus into contemporary times, including, bizarrely, England’s football team competing in a World Cup qualifying game, but Burjesta successfully kept it in Homer’s time period, wearing clothing appropriate of that period.
As was the case with Doctor Faustus the 13 person amateur cast deserve great credit for playing 43 different characters and the often rapid interchanging of roles.
Given Burjesta’s shoestring budget a lot of imagination was expended on interpreting various scenes, including members of the cast symbolishing, through body language, stormy seas and winds (particularly so when four women dressed in black surrounded Odysseus on his troubled voyage home to Ithaca), dead souls and various monsters (the one-eyed giant Cyclops being notable), witches and animals, for example, sheep, wolves and pigs (the Love Goddess Circe using her black magic to turn followers of Odysseus into the latter).
One of the best lines in the production was uttered by an older version of Odysseus, who said, ‘Amid all the creatures on Earth there is none so hopeless as Man.’
This is the case even more so than Athenian times, given the way the planet has been ravaged and pillaged beyond hope by the human race
The use of a Muse, to provide, what seemed like an outsider’s view of what was or about to take place, was impressive, as well as some parts of the dialogue being used in song form.
Following its run at The Casa, Burjesta take the production to the bigger stage at the Unity Theatre on Thursday 21 April (8pm).