The Pantaloons inventive reworking of The Odyssey is a triumph!

The Pantaloons are no strangers to the inventive re-working of classic texts, but this must be their most ambitious attempt to date. Slimming down Homer’s epic Greek poem into two hours of knockabout fun is arguably daring to the point of foolhardiness, yet they pulled it off with tremendous wit, a ferocious imagination, beach balls and an orange parasol.

Neil Jennings’s central performance as Odysseus, despite being given silly things to do throughout, nonetheless captured much of the dignity and gravitas of the eponymous hero, and was ably buttressed by a  great supporting cast and Stephen Purcell’s and  Mark Heywood’s brilliant script. Written entirely in verse, the text had the patina of classicism, yet was constructed and delivered with a clarity and fluidity that was vital and contemporary.

The cast were clearly at ease with the play and each other, which made for a singularly warm and inclusive evening, and delivered countless sideswipes at current affairs, movies and theatrical convention with genuinely funny quips and parodies. It was telling, however, that these fell away as the narrative developed – ultimately it was power of the original source material that captured the imagination of both the writers and the audience.

The Pantaloons return to the Corn Hall with their adaptation of Othello in November. 

By David Vass