This retelling of Homer’s epic, The Odyssey, is quite unlike any other. The Patchwork Odyssey is improv based and features extensive audience participation you can’t help but get drawn into from the get go. Absurdly engaging and intimately personal, the cast are open and inviting. A small underground venue, comfortable sofas and a chat with the cast before the story gets underway creates a relaxed and informal atmosphere: the perfect set up for the chaos which is about to ensue.
Immediately, you are made to feel like a part of the act. At regular intervals, an audience member is invited to pick a piece of patchwork featuring an instruction on how the cast must perform the next section of the show. From tempo changes and personal stories to singing and poetry, the show twists and turns to the will of the audience. The cast are unshakeable, meeting the challenges set to them with vigour and embracing the mistakes that are inevitably made in a show of this kind. It is complete pandemonium, but then so is the journey Odysseus takes. Oddly enough, this method of telling this classical story is astonishingly effective.
Thoroughly ridiculous and decidedly silly, this show is anything but polished – but it’s not meant to be. There are hundreds of other shows to see this Fringe if you do want something more perfect and rehearsed. The Patchwork Odyssey offers something different: a show which is unpredictable and new not only to a first time audience but even to the cast. At the end, each day brings a slightly new patchwork offering to the new audience, one that they themselves help to weave.
Words: Emily Hay
Photo: Michel Bosch
The Patchwork Odyssey, Assembly Roxy, Aug 3-28 (not 21), 12pm