My Father, Odysseus

Review written by Jenna Lambie Ridgway
A Unicorn Production

Reviewed at Unicorn Theatre
13th March – 10th April 2016
For ages 11+ 

I arrived at the Unicorn for My Father, Odysseus completely unawares; or as unaware as one may be almost 30 years on from first studying Homer’s epic poem. This left a pleasingly blank slate from which to experience the Unicorn’s production for young audiences (11+).

Upon entering the theatre the chaos of Ithaca is immediately apparent from the stripped stage and scattered set. Is it a scene of urban chaos? Is it the remnants of a three day beach bender gone bad? The answer to both questions is in a way, yes, as this modern adaptation takes no prisoners and pierces the heart of Wertenbaker’s text.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 18.54.33

Images by Manuel Harlan

This really is a mature story about a boy’s desperate search to find his father, save his mother and define his own identity. Successfully weaving themes of boyhood and time with thoughts of home, war and desertion, six actors seamlessly portray a total of eleven characters between them. Telemachus is fittingly young and tormented as he despairingly repeats his wish to know what it’s like to be called ‘son’. Odysseus is well played as a sort of ancient mariner who’s lost his sense of time and home, and Ginny Holder, who plays Penelope/Kalypso and Circe, is especially delightful and cunning with a particular poise that is a joy to watch.

From present day costumes to modern props to a vicious final fight scene peppered with comedy ketchup squirting, My Father, Odysseus works brilliantly in this stage adaptation. And as the music pumps and the tweens in the audience nod their heads and bounce in their seats, it’s clear I’m not the only one enjoying it.

Jenna is a writer, freelance arts manager and fundraiser. You can read more on her blog www.mrsbrownsbooks.blogspot.co.uk. Follow Jenna @mrsbrownsbooks

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