The Odyssey, Frome Merlin and touring

danceodyssey-2THERE was great excitement in the dance world when Mark Bruce launched his latest production at Frome’s Merlin Theatre.

After taking critics and audiences by storm with his Dracula in 2013, expectations were high for his version of The Odyssey, and they were not disappointed.

This first tour opened in Bruce’s now home town and continues until the end of April, including a four week stop at Wilton’s Music Hall in London.

The choreographer has concentrated his considerable visual and musical talents on creating a dance piece that includes the set-piece scenes of Homer’s epic poem, building a mom­en­tum of passion, fury, devotion, betrayal, endurance and the power of the human spirit as it follows the hero from his parting with his beloved wife through ten years of war to the ten year journey back to his island home.

The original is a story of gods and monsters as well as humans in all their vice and virtue, and this production brings them to stunning life.

It is an immersive experience, with its monumental and adaptable set design­ed by Phil Eddolls, lit by Guy Hoare, and its music ranging from Bruce’s own compositions through Tom Waits and Mark Lanegan via Frank Sinatra to Chopin, Mozart and Scarlatti.

As the story – of Odysseus and Pene­lope, their son Telemachus and the various gods and humans who aim to alter their courses – unfolds, the sense of urgency increases.

Christopher Tandy is the ravaged hero, with Jonathan Goddard (so memorable as Dracula) as the immortal man, Hannah Kidd as the devoted Penelope and Eleanor Duval as the immortal woman.

There is shocking realism and occasional humour in this mesmerising production, in which monsters materialise and as quickly vanish in a blood-red sea, the death and destruction of the Trojan wars is writ large on the stage, and the “happy” ending is tempered with the experience of human nature.

It might be a help for some members of the audience to do a quick crammer of the skeleton of Homer’s story, so we don’t have to listen to comments like “It’s quite good if you get a good translation. It’s like Merlin”

Don’t miss this wonderful peirce, which I am sure will follow Dracula to win national and international awards.


Posted in Reviews on .