Homer’s epic, in puppets

Stringed instruments
By MEGAN GRUMBLING  |  March 7, 2012

Our story thus far: The war is over! No, not the Iraq War, but one of even more mythological origins: After ten years of battle against Troy, the victorious war hero Odysseus, whose distinctively phallic sword arm has a life of its own, is poised to finally lead his troops back home to Ithaca. But his men are in rough shape — morale is low, and in skirmishes, their heads sometimes get spun around ass-backward on their bodies. Between the hazards of mutants, lust, mind-altering drugs, and men and gods yanking everybody around by strings and rods, it's going to be a long, strange trip.

First off, the soldiers start trouble trying to loot a nice wine-loving Rasta lady on the island of the peaced-out Ciconians. "These Greeks, they want a bailout, man, what do you think?" say the red-beaked natives, peeved, before doing clanking, gravity-defying battle.

Our hero gets his men out of there, only to have them hang him up again on the next island: "Hey, smell this, man," invite the dredlocked Lotus Eaters, who themselves sniff so much "super pollen" from the Holland Lotus that their rainbow-swathed bodies spin, literally, in mid-air. "Have you forsaken your home for the decadent Lotus flowers?!" Odysseus bellows at his men, finding them sprawled in a pile of limbs with the giggling natives. "Pretty much, man," is the blitzed consensus.

Odysseus handily calls upon the spirit of Nancy Reagan to bring the soldiers to their senses, only to promptly land them on a shore with the big, dumb, hungry Cyclops. This time, the soldiers make their escape strapped in strapped intimately to the underside of the monster's cherished sheep, which, being literally double-jointed, are remarkably nubile creatures. Will the foibles never end for Odysseus and his men?

Not for another three gravity-defying episodes. The Greek guy's still got a long way to go, and there's a lot more yanking in store for his rod. Between sea monsters, ship-wrecking Sirens, and the insatiable attentions of a witch goddess, there'll be no sleep 'til Ithaca.

The next three installments of The Odyssey, as performed by the Sicilian marionettes of Shoestring Theater (to whose founders, in full disclosure, this writer pays rent), runs at Mayo Street Arts for the next three Friday evenings, at 7:30 pm, and Saturday afternoons, at 1 pm. Advance tickets ($10) available at brownpapertickets.com/event/225506, or 207.615.3609.

Related: Review: Greta Bank’s ‘Cashmere Roadkill’ in ‘Storytellers’ at USM, Packing iron with Yellow Roman Candles, Portland's new wolf pack, More more >
  Topics: Theater , THE ODYSSEY, puppets, Homer,  More more >
| More

Most Popular
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HOW TO DRESS A WOUND  |  October 24, 2014
    Kayleen and Doug first meet when they’re both eight years old and in the school nurse’s office: She has a stomachache, and he has “broken his face” whilst riding his bike off the school roof. Their bond, though awkward and cantankerous, is thus immediately grounded in the grisly intimacy of trauma.
  •   TRAUMATIC IRONY  |  October 15, 2014
    A creaky old oceanfront Victorian. Three adult siblings who don’t like each other, plus a couple of spouses. A codicil to their father’s will that requires them to spend an excruciating week together in the house. And, of course, various ghosts.
  •   OVEREXTENDED FAMILY  |  October 11, 2014
    “I’m inclined to notice the ruins in things,” ponders Alfieri (Brent Askari). He’s recalling the downfall of a longshoreman who won’t give up a misplaced, misshapen love, a story that receives a superbly harrowing production at Mad Horse, under the direction of Christopher Price.   
  •   SOMETHING'S GOTTA FALL  |  October 11, 2014
    While it hasn’t rained on the Curry family’s 1920’s-era ranch in far too long, the drought is more than literal in The Rainmaker .
  •   SURPASSED MENAGERIE  |  October 03, 2014
    Do Buggeln and Vasta make a Glass Menagerie out of Brighton Beach Memoirs? Well, not exactly.

 See all articles by: MEGAN GRUMBLING