Homer’s epic poem about the war hero returning home gets a radical updating by poet Simon Armitage.
The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead follows a high-ranking government minister sent on a diplomatic mission to Istanbul. After a bar-room brawl sparks outrage on social media, he becomes Europe’s most wanted man. On the run, he is plunged into the ancient past to contend with witches, sirens and more other-worldly beings, while at home his wife is subjected to a siege by the press.
Armitage joins forces once more with director Nick Bagnall after their successful collaboration on the play The Last Days of Troy. Says Armitage:
“This is not a purist’s version of the story. Something which I have always recognised in The Odyssey is its pantomimic quality. There is an element in the travails of Odysseus, as the Gods put obstacle after obstacle in his way, that is hysterically funny and I have tried to bring out this aspect of the work.”
Regarding his contemporary, political setting, he explains:
“Who are the real wielders of power in this world but the humans, the mortals, the politicians? In The Odyssey, the Gods are more human than the humans. They have their foibles, they are full of jealousy and they are trying to manipulate different situations to their advantage. They may have the clout but nothing they do seems to actually work out as they hoped. We humans are an unbiddable lot, after all.”
The show takes place at Cambridge Arts Theatre, 17-21 November, 7.45pm (2.30pm matinee). Tickets from £15.