Odyssey created by Andreas Litras and John Bolton. Performed by Andreas Litras. Directed by John Bolton for Anthos Theatre at The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre,July 2-6, 2002, 8pm.
If you are of Greek background, you must not miss this Odyssey. If your family has a migrant history, Odyssey will echo in your mind like the echoes in the giant's cave created by this excellent theatre artist, Andreas Litras. If you are an indigenous Australian, this mythic story of journey, adversity and final homecoming is a symbol of a history still seeking that necessary resolution. In other words, no-one should miss this play.
I could write a treatise about the complexity of the layers of theatrical meaning created by just one performer in 80 minutes; about the wonderful interplay between comedy and tragedy; about the history of epic storytelling represented here; about the melding of Grotowski and Brecht. Probably I would focus on the influence of the French mime Lecoq who trained John Bolton, who trained Litras to create so much with so little.
But this play doesn't need academic justification: children on opening night were fascinated, laughed and felt the power of the story of migration as much as the theatre professionals and all the wide range of people there. It was a wonderful joke for the Greek stage cleaner, who preferred tv because you can switch off what you don't like, to pick out the professional theatre-goer, sitting at the end of the row near the door, ready to do a bunk. Must be intelligent, therefore must be Greek.
– But no, said Domenic Mico, I'm Italian!
– Well, really? I think you'd better go and ask your mother!
This was serendipity, since it was Mico who had originally tried to bring the play to Canberra's Multicultural Festival, couldn't raise the funds, but did manage a one-off for the 20th Anniversary of the Migrant Resource Centre. He claims that even the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs showed an emotional response.
This play, and the photo exhibition The Sea and Foreign Lands by Simon Cuthbert, does the Canberra Theatre Centre proud. This is theatre with humour, guts and depth which everyone can appreciate - a rare diamond cut with taste and precision.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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