The Patchwork Odyssey (4 stars)

This article is from 2017

The Patchwork Odyssey

credit: Michel Bosch

Homespun improv take on Homer's great myth is a playful joy

Blending improv and mythic storytelling, this playful, sometimes elusive show from Netherlands-based Patchwork Theatre turns Homer's great tale of homecoming and enduring love into a homespun, fleet-footed reflection on our need for play and storytelling. Principal characters are assigned using garments borrowed from the audience, and we're also required to pick game titles from a hat, a new one for each scene.

Perhaps we control and alter the speed at which a segment progresses, or maybe the actors have to consult us each time before carrying out their actions. Underlying all the improv work, however, is the tale of Odysseus' perilous return to his wife Penelope after two decades away at war, skirting cyclops, sea monsters, tempting sirens and more – and delivered as best the four Patchwork actors can remember it.

There's a lot of humour in the show, much of it gentle and warm-hearted enough to make The Patchwork Odyssey a strong choice for kids (although a vague prior knowledge of the story would help). But what makes it stand out is the company's warm encouragement of our own involvement, as if reminding us that we're all made to play and to tell stories. It's ramshackle and under-rehearsed at times, but that's all part of the show's disarming charm. And you might even get a sweet Greek nibble to help set the scene.

Assembly Roxy, until 28 Aug (not 21), noon, £8–£10.

The Patchwork Odyssey

  • 4 stars

Patchwork Theatre A group of actors and a cellist attempt to reawaken the spirit of The Odyssey using only what they can remember from reading the books. They did prepare some songs and poems for support, to be honest. To add to the fun, there are some rules: the show is cast in front of the audience; performers must…