Skip to main content

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

Popular posts from this blog

Review of Market Boy by The Royal & Derngate Actors Company at Royal & Derngate (Royal), Northampton

I have now written a little over two hundred and fifty reviews on this blog (yes I know, amazing. I am sorry). Most shows I have enjoyed, many I have given four star reviews, a good number have also got that lofty five stars from me. There is however hiding among them five star reviews, another tier of brilliance. One that lies in my head, where everything comes together to go beyond that five, but where I have nothing left to give. The play, the performances, the staging, and perhaps even more to elevate what is a personal opinion as a review, an actual personal emotional feeling or connection towards the piece.
Market Boy written by David Eldridge and performed by the Royal & Derngate Actors Company will (spoiler intended) receive five stars from me at the end of this review. However as that first paragraph suggests, this was one of those that went a little further for me. Set in what I happily claim as my decade and featuring throughout the music of that decade, which I claim …

Review of Benidorm Live at Milton Keynes Theatre, Milton Keynes

I arrived at Milton Keynes Theatre to see this touring stage version of ITV comedy hit Benidorm with a distinct lack of knowledge. Having never seen the show, my information stretched as far as knowing it was set in a holiday resort in Spain (the title helps there), and that the humour generally resorted to the cruder end of the spectrum. However, having graced the screens for ten years, it was clear that Derren Litten's show had garnered quite a following, and indeed it was clear from the reception of the audience on the night, that this following was pretty much filling the theatre.

The plot, such as it is for this stage show, is very much drafted from an episode of Fawlty Towers, and made a great deal more adult with its humour. The hotel manager, Joyce Temple-Savage (a sharp performance by Sherrie Hewson) gets wind that a hotel inspector is in, and the scene is set for seeking them out and all the obvious cases of mistaken identity. It's thin and doesn't fill the show,…

Review of Hacktivists by Ben Ockrent performed by R&D Youth Theatre at Royal & Derngate (Underground), Northampton

The National Theatres Connections series of plays had been one of my highlights of my trips to R&D during 2014. Their short and snappy single act style kept them all interesting and never overstaying their welcome. So I was more than ready for my first encounter with one of this years Connections plays ahead of the main week of performances at R&D later in the year.

Hacktivists is written by Ben Ockrent, whose slightly wacky but socially relevant play Breeders I had seen at St James Theatre last year. Hacktivists is less surreal, but does have a fair selection of what some people would call odd. Myself of the other hand would very much be home with them. So we are presented with thirteen nerdy "friends" who meet to hack, very much in what is termed the white hat variety. This being for good, as we join them they appear to have done very little more than hacked and created some LED light device.

Crashing in to spoil the party however comes Beth (Emma-Ann Cranston) and…