Adapted by Hannah Reuter, based on Homer's The Odyssey; Directed by the Ensemble
Part of the 2018 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 10.10.18
HB Studio, 124 Bank Street
by Ran Xia on 10.8.18
The ensemble of The Odyssey.
BOTTOM LINE: The Classical Remix Theatre Collective brings an easily digestible, and certifiably fun, version of the Odyssey.
A theatre troupe shuffles onto a bare stage. With a rehearsal block that becomes a boulder, and a collection of props assembled from a classroom cupboard, magic happens. Sure, they struggle to function as a team, to say the least of getting through the story—they constantly argue amongst themselves, debating which one of them gets to narrate, and which one gets to play the least popular role (the tree). But all of those quirks become part of this troupe's unique charm, because when they do get through an entire story, you realize that you've been rooting for them. The kids in the audience certainly have been.
The main event of this 35-minute engagement is, of course, the retelling of The Odyssey, except here, the Classical Remix Theatre Collective does it in a way that kids will understand, and the humor made relevant to those in school. Poseidon gets angry with Odysseus and his crew because he doesn't have a permission slip to pass the ocean (the oceanic God's trident is a large plastic fork, which gets a well deserved chuckle). The episode of the lotus eater is upgraded to Odysseus' crew becoming enchanted by addictive lotus flavored ice cream, which also causes them to forget about home. And then there's the sirens: two members of the ensemble come out donning glittering sashes, singing Adele's "Hello." The team also sprinkles in educational bits: explaining five-dollar words in simpler terms, or giving useful life advice. I imagine any parents would appreciate the show's positive influence.
In short, this production details Odysseus' adventure using analogies and references apropos to a 21st-century audience, while maintaining the essence of the Greek classic. My one critique is that the show takes its time to get into the main event. The storytelling portion of the show feels relatively rushed, and is finished almost too easily. I hoped for even more transportive adventures, and was slightly disappointed by the absence of Circe's zoo in this retelling—I would have loved to see what this inventive team would've come up with.
What Classical Remix Theatre Collective does here reflects the true spirit of FringeNYC. It proves that epic, magical stories can be performed at minimal cost while being understood by kids, and that the power of imagination is the most important element in storytelling. Oh and there's an extremely sassy looking duck-shaped life preserver—I'd see it just for that!
(The Odyssey plays at HB Studio, 124 Bank Street, through October 10, 2018. Meet at the BLUE FringeNYC flag. The running time is 35 minutes. Performances are Sat 10/6 at 2, Sun 10/7 at 1, Mon 10/8 at 5:30, Tue 10/9 at 7, and Wed 10/10 at 7. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $22 (plus $3.69 ticketing fee), $16 (plus $3.51) for seniors, and are ONLY available online at fringenyc.org.)
The Odyssey is by Hannah Reuter, based on The Odyssey by Homer. Directed by The Classical Remix Theatre Collective ensemble. Assistant Director is Michael Fleischer. Lighting Designer and Stage Manager is Kristina Gramlich.
The cast is Lyndsey McAdams, Wes Laga, James McLaughlin-McDermott, Annie Crowley, Rosa Prado, and Christa Comito.