The Telemachy at Etcetera Theatre
Part of Etcetera Theatre’s Camden Fringe, The Telemachy, written by Alexander Day and directed by Milla Jackson, provides a unique perspective on the Greek classic, Homer’s Odyssey. A travelling Poet (Arman Mantella) tells Homer’s story from the point of view of young Telemachus, son of Odysseus.
With bold grace, our engaging bard saunters on stage, unpacks a suitcase of wine and drinks (“In vino veritas”), beginning his creative tale about Greek heroes and gods within a 21st century context. He questions the place of 20-somethings in today’s world – “Who speaks for us, our generation?” – and meanders through symbols of rebellion – “Here we are now, entertain us…!” – pondering on politics, Brexit, racism, British colonialism and asking his “muse” for answers to questions about life.
With his swashbuckling style our narrator tells the story of a 20-year-old Telemachus, who provides an obstacle to the desperate suitors courting his overwhelmed mother, Penelope. Initially lacking the confidence and authority to thwart them, after jouneying to Pylos and Sparta, and with the help of Athena, Telemachus eventually gains maturity and respect. His father, Odysseus, was a fighting hero at Troy and with great difficulty, has endeavoured to return home to his kingdom in Ithaca. Telemachus feels his father abandoned him, but when the two unite, they form a powerful force.
Intertwined with Homer’s Odyssey are references to modern times. Mantella’s Poet wants the young to have a voice, equating silence with death: “What changes can be made if nobody speaks up?” Mocking the superstitions of the elders, he ponders the symbolic meaning of two eagles on a mountaintop: “Lots of birds go about their business in the sky without being an omen!” With humour, he bewails the lack of respect with which the elders describe youth: “The younger generation is so idle and apathetic…just sit on a beach tweeting articles from The Guardian…” Then the storyteller concludes that “the Greeks believed the world came out of chaos…that’s where we’re headed again [but] from this chaos, here’s hoping”.
Mantella as the Poet is lively and charismatic; a one-man cast incorporating multiple roles very artfully and with great wit, portraying Telemachus, Odysseus, the evil suitors pursuing his mother, even Penelope herself. Telemachy is an interesting, vibrant, thought-provoking and very humorous work. It is a unique and enjoyable theatrical experience.
The Telemachy is at Etcetera Theatre from 16th until 21st August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.