Review: The Odyssey, Derby Theatre

odysseyAn epic production for an epic tale – Derby Theatre’s version of The Odyssey was storytelling at its finest and it certainly packed an emotional punch or two.

From the opening seconds to the final curtain it was a drama of which every theatre in the land should be envious.

Few of them are lucky enough to be able to stage such shows and Derby is privileged to have such a talented team in place.

The Odyssey is the story of one soldier’s return home from war and artistic director Sarah Brigham chose it for the theatre’s latest home-grown production to commemorate and examine the consequences of conflict.

It looks at the effects on soldiers and the communities in which they live when they return home from war.

Mike Kenny was commissioned to write a fresh new version of the age-old tale which he described as still fresh as a daisy.

The mix of the ancient with the contemporary was electrifying and at one point we had war-weary soldiers kitted out for Iraq, battling with a one-eyed giant Cyclops who was bent on ripping off their heads. How on earth do you dramtise that one?

The art of good theatre is to get the audience to see what isn’t there and Sarah and her team tackled this particular conundrum – and indeed the hanging of a disloyal woman servant – brilliantly.

Normally with a review you are looking to heap praise on one or two of the stand-out cast. I can’t do that in this case as the overriding feeling I had throughout the production was that they were all in it together.

Yes, Wole Sawyerr was magnificent in the lead role – there was no doubting that his powerful presence on stage was remarkable – but so too were the other seven.

They approached it as a team and shared out the workload and should therefore share all the plaudits which they richly deserve.

The cast were Emma Beattie, Rich Dolphin, Adam Horvath, Christopher Price, Wole Sawyerr, Ivan Stott, Ella Vale and Anna Westlake.

The assistant director was Lucy Doherty, designer, Barney George, sound designer, Ivan Stott, lighting designer Tim Skelly, fight director Ian Stapleton and casting director Kay Magson.

The production can be seen until March 1. For tickets go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk

You can get a taste of what to expect in this video from the rehearsals.

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