altShortlisted for this year’s Total Theatre Awards in the Innovation category, winner of The Stage Award for ‘Best Solo Performer 2009’, and having been an Official Fringe Sell-Out Show last year, Theatre Ad Infinitum’s production of Odyssey returns to Edinburgh. In a thrilling and mesmerising performance of Homer’s classic story. George Mann narrates and plays all the characters, including Odysseus returning home after the Trojan War. This is quite simply one of the best hours of entertainment you’ll find at the festival.

In a tale packed with characters, Mann manages to make each person instantly recognisable and there is never any confusion about who is speaking. From the confident burly figure of our hero, to his softly-spoken wife Penelope, to her many suitors, each character is represented by an individual voice or a unique posture. 

The same dexterity and clarity is achieved for locations (Mount Olympus is a crackling cloud of lightning) and Mann’s speech as nymph or God uses no sound effects but seems supernatural. His transformations from God to man, or man to pig, burst with energy. Action scenes like the battle in Odysseus’ hall are exciting and tense, and move smoothly between slow-mo broad-sword gore and real-time (and amusing) deaths by arrow. The 2004 film Troy had a production budget of $150m for actors, special effects and locations. George Mann can tell a better story on his own with no props. 

For a chance to appreciate the excitement of Odysseus’ journey that might have been lost somewhere along the way in your academic studies of the text, to be reminded of its amazing adventures, or to be introduced to the tale for the first time, Odyssey is unmissable.

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