Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey are in some ways the poetic equivalents of Greek tragedy and comedy; the latter a spoonful of sweetness to help us digest the meaning of the former. If the Iliad shows us the horror and folly of war, the Odyssey sends fragile and fallible man out into a frequently threatening world to make his own way through it.
Everyone loves a quest, and the Odyssey has proved the grande mere to numerous offspring. Homer takes 24 Books to describe Ulysses’ many adventures and final homecoming, while Paper Cinema give us their encapsulation in some 75 minutes.
Theirs is a frequently exciting and always inventive rendition of the timeless tale, involving some classic animation, sound effects and three highly competent musicians. Faithful to the text in most respects, its energy only occasionally seeming to falter, Paper Cinema’s Odyssey is a genuine tour de force of techniques employed to drive the narrative forward.
In brief, the Odyssey offers the tale of Ulysses, a participant in the siege of Troy, told in the Iliad, who takes ten years to journey home, encountering many adventures before arriving to find his wife and son beset by suitors for his spouse’s hand, who have to be defeated before family life can resume.
At times there’s a tendency to employ anachronism to provide the audience with ‘laughter opportunities’ which jar somewhat with the plain storytelling of the rest, and if we’re in on the joke, this reviewer was still left wondering why the company thought these were needed.
All art involves some compromise and even self-censorship, and although at times one might have wished that Paper Cinema had either fully loosened their collective stays or adopted a rather more rigid approach to their chosen text, theirs remains a fine collective achievement.
Performance on 7th February 2013