Writer and director Mick Zijdel harnesses his love for Homer’s epic and puts it securely onto the stage with ease and excellence in the hilariously clever The Odyssey in 60 Minutes.
With help from co-directors Freya Gray Stone and Lily Hextall, Zijdel’s writing enables all the best parts of The Odyssey to be addressed. Each scene seamlessly sweeps into the next without a moment’s hesitation. The performance itself is without fault and lends itself well to being on stage.
The chemistry between the cast is unbreakable, even despite the complexity of multi-roling. They all seem comfortable with each other on stage and with their characters – a true quality of great acting.
Taking the eponymous lead, Izzy Hodgson comes into her own, capturing both Odysseus’s intellect and desire for female intimacy in a highly humorous way. She commands the stage and gives an unforgettable performance.
Madeleine Tierney is particularly noteworthy for her role as Odysseus’s wife Penelope, capturing her despair at not seeing her husband passionately but also comically.
Emer Williams brings her characters to life, skilfully shifting between the Greek military leader Agamemnon and Nausicaa, the daughter of the Phaeacian King.
Although Hermes is a somewhat minor role in the play, Ray Finlayson definitely embodies his cunningly quick intellect, which helps layer the play with more laughter.
Callum Bird-Neilson is particularly notable for his portrayal of Odysseus’s son Telemachus, conveying his despair at waiting for his father to return. As with Tierney, he does this in a convincingly comical way.
Last but by no means least, Mia Tuxen looks at home on the stage as both Athena and Queen Arete, as well as showcasing her impressive voice in the play’s opening sequence. She seems to really know her characters, showing flair and precision in her performance, possessing an almost regal quality to her acting which is magical to watch.
Comedy is really at the heart of this production with raucous laughter resonating throughout. Homer is made accessible to all, with no prior knowledge of the story needed.
In fact, there are no moments when the audience feels lost in the farce-like feel of the play. Homer would be proud.
Featured image credit: Marie Claire Götzinger via Wikimedia Commons