This fascinating one woman show is a dramatic exploration of Odysseus' wife Penelope and her life experiences are brought up to date just as in the main house production of The Odyssey. Penelope (Caroline Horton) is left all alone with her young son Telemachus while Odysseus reluctantly goes off to fight in the Trojan wars and returns nineteen years later a practical stranger. The multi-layered piece delves too into modern day experiences of forced separation for military wives. The performance is very much in the moment, compelling and often raises and highlights feelings and issues of hope and frustration through dramatic abstraction.
It is done with great expertise, humour and passion by performer and dramaturg Caroline Horton who returns to Derby Theatre in May 2013 with her Olivier Award nominated show 'You're Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy' set during World War Two.
The work also explores, with some humour coupled with sensitivity, the life of military wives and their support systems and meetings. The audience are fully involved throughout and are spoken to as various ladies at the meeting and at one point an audience member is addressed as though he is the estranged husband. Also there is a very funny weather report based on the shipping report and speaks of Greek gods and stormy seas. This becomes a paradox however as the shipping report broadcast in the British Isles is generally seen as a comforting medium but not in this version.
The temperature of the sea and tides, swimming and drowning are constant metaphors and states within this gripping piece which ends with Penelope dramatically tearing apart the bed and her exposing her tortured soul through an explosive barrage of poetic wordplay before drowning herself in the sea. Penelope RETOLD takes us on a journey deeper into Penelope, the caged and isolated woman, and beyond the end of the main house stage play and importantly, gives a powerful voice to the character of Penelope that was denied by Homer.
This is a gripping and unique piece of theatre and a must see. Five stars!
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