WRITTEN BY: ZURI HOFFMAN
From March 16 through March 26, the Temple community has the chance to see Mary Zimmerman’s rendition of Homer’s The Odyssey, directed by Brandon McShaffrey, in Temple’s own Tomlinson Theater.
The Odyssey tells the classic tale of Odysseus’ voyage home following the fall of Troy and the stumbling blocks Odysseus faces along the way. Additionally, the show follows Telemachus and Penelope’s hardships to elude persistent suitors. However, don’t be fooled into expecting a simple classic storyline. The play comes with a twist of modern humor and daringly sexual scenes.
Throughout Odysseus’ journey he and his men have many fatal setbacks, which are the defining moments of the play and the overall story line. Yet, in spite of the troubles Odysseus encounters, he manages to succeed all of his enemies, which truly defines him as a mortal hero, as the play emulates.
The run time was around two and a half hours long, not including the brief intermission. The set transforms itself through lighting and sound, props and other creative revisions, which allowed for a truly theatrical spectacle. The show was creative in every aspect. Live performances of the flute and guitar added a nice touch and contributed to the somber tone of the scene.
Yet, perhaps the most bizarre scene of the play was the introduction of the Sirens, who try to lure Odysseus and his men with their voices. The scene hints at this concept, but doesn’t quite make it clear, especially for those who don’t know the original tale of The Odyssey. The scene of the Sirens confused some audience members with its costuming and song choices. Some believed the scene made for a puzzling, strange and awkward stage moment with an overtly sexual twist.
Despite the confusion with the Siren scene, the play was designed as one easy to follow. Athena and Odysseus both narrated the play which helped the audience continue along with each scene change and the overall storyline. Odysseus encounters many different characters along his journey, however this production didn’t loose me at all. Props were used efficiently as sticks transformed to boats, and as Odysseus was able to camouflage himself from his wife Penelope simply using glasses, an old sweater and good set of acting skills.
Overall this production was a success. Although aspects of the production didn’t quite suit my preferences – such as the unnecessarily erotic scenes – the spectacle of the play, great acting and good directing made it easy to follow, which makes this production of The Odyssey a crowning achievement.