City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Odyssey, Pleasance Dome, Review

By Jon Cross - Posted on 09 August 2017

Show details
Pleasance Dome
Theatre Ad Infinitum
Running time: 
Nir Paldi (director), George Mann and Nir Paldi (co-writers/adaptors)
George Mann

In this powerful re-telling of Homer’s epic tale a solo performer populates an empty stage with a cast of characters human and divine using only his voice and body. There are no props, no set, no costumes, no music, just the teller, just the tale.

From the very start, the performance is intense, passionate and compelling, grabbing the audience and propelling them forward through the action, as the hero faces perilous encounters with the seductive Calypso, the sorceress Circe and the giant Cyclops Polyphemus. The performer shifts seamlessly between characters or undergoes shuddering transformations as men turn into pigs or gods take on mortal disguise.

The exaggerated swooping gestures, the constant chest-thumping and booming sonorous delivery – Steven Berkoff meets Patrick Stewart – may not be to everyone’s taste, but the mannered style, with its repeated vocal and physical rhythms is an ideal match for the poetry and grandeur of the original. This kind of story-telling may well be as close to original Greek oral traditions as we can get.

If there is to be any criticism of this otherwise excellent piece, it is that the performance is now just a little too long. When Odyssey was first performed to great acclaim at The Fringe in 2009, it was billed as “One actor, one hour.” In this year’s programme, it is listed as sixty-five minutes and on the flyers as seventy. This drift shows up towards the end where the action should be accelerating towards the tumultuous climax, but the pace seems to slow as the narrative becomes cluttered with too much minor business.

This remains a must-see show, an exceptional tour-de-force by a highly accomplished performer.

Until August 28, not 9, 15, 22 at 13:15