Soldier’s tale hits the spot

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In the year that marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, a play that focuses on the story of a soldier returning from war is going to have an extra resonance.

Homer’s The Odyssey was initially set 3,000 years ago but in Derby Theatre’s adaptation, the modern-day parallels are there for all to see.

The Odyssey is a sweeping and epic tale which you might imagine would present a daunting challenge for a cast of just eight on stage, without the benefit of major special effects, frequent costume changes and copious sets.

But it is nevertheless a triumph of staging, allowing the audience’s imagination full rein to sample the distant and varied lands where Odysseus and his comrades find adventure - and death - on their travels.

The play opens in dramatic, attention-grabbing style, and, as befits the story of a soldier, the cast are decked out in army fatigues and the stage is dressed in camouflage netting.

The use of live music, mainly performed onstage by actor/musician Ivan Stott, adds greatly to the overall atmosphere, and lighting, sound , stage designs and acting all combine well tocreate a satisfying and intriguing whole.

As Odysseus, Wole Sawyerr is a compelling presence who commands the stage.

His fellow actors play a wide selection of parts, from soldiers to sheep to a cyclops, and add greatly to the play.

The Odyssey has been neatly adapted by Olivier Award-winnng playwright Mike Kenny and is powerfully directed by Sarah Brigham.

The Odyssey continues the run of successful in-house productions at Derby Theatre, following in the footsteps of Cooking With Elvis, Kes and Horrible Christmas.

It can be seen there until Saturday, March 1.

For ticket availability, call the box office on 01332 593939.