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Review of The Odyssey by Northampton University Actors (3rd Year) at University Of Northampton (Avenue Campus)

I arrived at the avenue campus on a dull, rainy afternoon having left a pile of washing up behind me, how these pesky students knew of such things I have no idea. However, having received my ticket (a piece of string), I and the assembled crowd were invited into the Isham Studios (dark edition no less).

Inside was a set consisting mainly of string, either hanging from the ceiling or pooling upon the floor. Also present was one of the actors wafting incense around which was leaving a pleasant aroma. Also music, a soothing, soulful song was playing, perfect to fall asleep to. Taking our seats (please take them, oh the agony), we waited for proceedings to begin.

Our introduction came from Lydia Rose Blagg, one of those that I was able to identify in the show (thanking you Twitter), and I say now from the outset that I am yet to be able to know all of the stars in the show, but this detracts from not one of you, because, you were all mighty fine. However Lydia spirited us away from the dull and damp exterior of the building and carried us (not to Springfield, damn my incorrect research!) to the dusty lands of the Greek landscape. Our cast came forth from either side and launched into a rebellious, rowdy and drunkenly choreographed piece, expertly repeated as the drunken mob downed drink after drink after drink and wiped their mouths in delight. I could so have been in Bridge Street.

I know little of The Odyssey, but through individual and staggeringly performed segments the tale was told. Each actor getting their moment in the limelight. All were excellent, others stood out even more. The lady (sadly I know not thy name / edit: who shall hence forth be known at Samantha Colden) who performed the earliest piece to the right of the stage was dazzling, in not so the speech, but the tale that her hands told. It was easy to get distracted by just the visual nature of her performance, and for me I was happy to get distracted as much like Shakespeare, I was never going to fully get this performance. I am a simple viewer at heart and as I have said many times before, I tend to go along with the visual and performance over the wordy nature of many of these things. We all get different things and as I was clearly told when I attended the first year John Donne performance earlier this year, these pieces are deliberately difficult to really challenge the students. Therefore they challenge myself also, more so.

My simple brain loved the pieces like the tale of the Cyclops (expertly told by I believe Sarah Kirk). Others like Sam Billy Behan, Ashlee Sopher and Catherine Garlick impressed again. However these were ones that I had recognised once again from MacBeth or Richard III and not because they were necessarily better than the others, because each individual piece was brilliant and absorbing, many for different reasons.

Likewise the visual feast was a delight, be it cleverly rehearsed chair movements, or the tossing of the poor individual to represent the sea, or the wonderful use of the string, particularly in the final bloodbath. Between them directors Jo Blake Cave and Cat Gerrard had created a challenging and dynamic production, which while parts flew over my simple head, provided a vivid and interesting production. I just didn't need Jenny Styles to remind my of that damn washing up.


Performance viewed: Sunday, 2nd November, 2014 (matinee)

The Odyssey was performed between Wednesday, 29th October and Sunday, 2nd November, 2014
Twitter feed for the production is @OdysseyCollec while the University actors account is @BA_Actors

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