The Odyssey

Adapted from Homer by Nir Paldi and George Mann

Theatre Ad Infinitum

The Ustinov, Bath Theatre Royal and touring

(2010)

Review by Allison Vale

Lecoq trained company Ad Infinitum have already made an impact with their extraordinary one-man retelling of Homer's Odyssey. At Edinburgh 2009, the show played to widespread critical acclaim and its star, George Mann, received the Stage Best Solo Performer award.

It is entirely deserving of all the attention. This is a truly mesmerising production. George Mann stands alone in casual clothes on a bare stage. But the precision, energy and dynamism of his performance entirely transforms the space, in the closest thing to a human animation that I have experienced.

The adaptation itself is remarkably ambitious: the entire Odyssey condensed into a 70 minute production. Mann takes on the vast and colourful array of characters, assigning each its own particular physical leitmotif.

But the performance goes so far beyond narration and characterisation. Mann becomes an ocean enraged by Poseidon; a bloody battle scene, gorged with disfigured and disembowelled casualties; a rising moon and Athena's swiftly falling, protective mist. His performance lights up his story; his words and peerless physicality making this a highly visual spectacle that is every bit as affecting as a Hollywood epic.

This is story-telling at its most inventive; a uniquely creative production from a remarkable young company.

Runs at the Ustinov until April 3rd and tours to Lincoln, Brighton, Liverpool, Leeds, Maidenhead, Aberystwyth, Newbury, Oxford, Salisbury, Tonbridge and Manchester.