Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Robert W. Bethune
Don’t be misled by the publicity surrounding Stratford’s production of Derek Walcott’s “The Odyssey,” which focuses on peripheral and intellectual aspects of the play – colonialism, cycles of history, turning tides of slavery, etc. Now, these things ARE in the production, mostly as visual elements. However, it really is the “Odyssey” that matters, the ancient Greek epic poem, given lots of modernity and put up on the stage. It even has a few words in ancient Greek. It’s all there – the Cyclops, the Sirens, sex with goddesses, etc.
Director Peter Hinton and his designers have taken the little Studio Theatre and crammed it full of play. Carolyn Smith’s central set element is the wreck of an old four-door coupe, which becomes too many things to mention. Katherine Lubienski puts Penelope in a spectacular white outfit, not essentially Greek and yet Greek in essentials. It includes a veil at first, which goes away and is much missed. Robert Thomson’s lighting provides lots of visual fireworks.
For the first two-thirds, the play does not work terribly well. Homer’s poem is chaotic, and so is Walcott’s play. In the theater, chaos needs to go somewhere. This play doesn’t go somewhere until Odysseus sets foot on his home island after 20 years at war and at sea. Then it really takes off as the old warrior does battle for his home, his son, his wife and the core of himself. “The Odyssey” is about how it takes two decades of war and suffering to turn a man of violence into a man of peace. We see that at the end of this play. The core performances – Nigel Williams as Odysseus, Allegra Fulton as Penelope, and Jeremiah Sparks as Homer, here known as Blind Billy Blue – make it happen. It’s worth seeing.
Stratford Festival of Canada at the Studio Theatre. In repertory, Tues.-Sun., through Sept. 28. Tickets: $23-$108 Canadian. For information: 800-567-1600 or http://www.stratfordfestival.ca.