IT would be hard to imagine a more atmospheric setting than the new village hall at Kimmeridge for the first night of Dave Mynne’s Artrsreach tour of The Odyssey.
The waves of the ancient past wash over you in this beautiful new building, almost within the sound of the sea, and built with a substantial Heritage Lottery grant to house the remarkable fossil collection of Steve Etches.
Mynne (famous for his one-man shows, including Great Expectations and Dracula, and as a founder member of Cornwall’s Kneehigh Theatre) has based his new show partly on Homer’s epic poem, The Iliad, the 10 year war between the Greeks and the Trojans, but mainly on The Odyssey, the epic of the hero Odysseus and his long absence from his island kingdom of Ithaka – 10 years fighting the Trojan war and 10 years of adventures, mishaps, monsters and seduction sirens to find his way home.
Mynne plays every part in this new show, from the testosterone-loaded Odysseus to his abandoned wife Penelope, from the seductive Circe to the vile Cyclops, as he follows Homer’s most ambiguous hero on his 20 year journey to Troy and back (with a few departures from the original).
In loose white top and trousers with a blue scarf to transform into the various characters – Penelope’s veil, the baby Telemachus and even the Cyclops’ single evil eye – Mynne has the simplest of props, pine packing cases, a little wooden horse and a little wooden boat.
Before the audience’s amazed and delighted eyes, he conquers Troy, survives storms, cuts through lotus jungles, disappears into a whirlpool to hell and crawls up on the shore of his homeland to face perhaps his greatest challenge of all (no spoilers!)
It’s a tour de force of skilled physical acting and multiple voices, an object lesson in the ability of a single performer to hold an audience in the palm of his (or her) hand and spin stories round them.
This was only the second Artsreach event in the new Kimmeridge hall, and with its evocation of ancient stormy seas and marine monsters – just feet from Steve Etches’ collection of fossils, dinosaurs and strange creatures from the deep – it would be hard to imagine a more appropriate setting.
Dave Mynne has an already sold-out performance with Artsreach at Pentridge and a virtual sell-out at Sydling St Nicholas village hall on Saturday 18th February. He is back in Dorset for two more dates with Artsreach, at Child Okeford on Saturday 25th March and Buckland Newton village hall on Sunday 26th.
There are also four dates with Devon’s Villages In Action touring scheme, from 16th to 19th March, at Cadbury, Denbury, Honiton’s Beehive and Buckland-in-the-Moor. FC