By the time I found the theatre I felt like I had embarked on my own long and difficult journey and The Vault was my Ithaca, barely recognisable through an ominous graffiti-decorated tunnel.
The Odyssey, the great epic told by the poet Homer, starts at the end of the Trojan war and follows Greek warrior Odysseus’s ten year journey back home to his faithful wife and now grown-up son. On his journey home, Odysseus is up against the angry god Poseidon who sends great storms and various obstacles to prevent the warrior from being reunited with his family. With the help of Athena, Odysseus must overcome nymphs, a cyclops, a witch and various other complications that slowly destroy his companions but can’t come between Odysseus and his determination to return home.
Don’t be startled by the figure lying on the floor upon your entering the auditorium- this truly brings the story to life when the show eventually begins. If you were expected to give such an animated performance to last just over an hour you would be grateful for the rest too.
Performer George Mann takes on this great epic in an incredibly energetic, storytelling-like, solo performance. Mann takes on every role, from Odysseus to Penelope and even the assorted obstacles that stand between Odysseus and home. He gives each character a signature gesture to make it perfectly clear to the audience who he is voicing at any given moment.
It is without any doubt that it takes a lot of talent for one man to become so many different characters – especially without the aid of props or costume, yet the creativity behind it all made it so much more enjoyable to watch. Mann has such a range in his own vocals and facial expressions and effortlessly sets scenes, creating characters merely through different voices and impressive man-made sound effects. His timing is impeccable whether he is stirring up drama or finding the comic side to the story.
The lighting is Mann’s only cast mate and proves to be beautifully co-ordinated during Odysseus’s final fight scene against Penelope’s suitors. As only an army of three, the red lighting creates a shadow on either side of Mann and so the three men fight in perfect sync and indicates the bloodshed of the moment.
This take on The Odyssey has the feel of a childlike story time only for adults, and they are loving it too.
Odyssey is playing Vault Festival 2015 until 1 March. For more information and tickets, see the Vault Festival website.