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.

  Topics: Theater , THE ODYSSEY, puppets, Homer,  More more >
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