Monday, July 13, 2009

The Odyssey

The Next Stage Ensemble of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey brought Homer's The Odyssey to the Berkeley Heights Public Library's outdoor stage (aka: the parking lot) on Friday night. Using the sparest of props and imaginative staging, the traveling players enacted Odysseus ' long voyage home from Troy to Ithaca. Wiley Odysseus outsmarts the Cyclops; listens to the Sirens while lashed to the mast; sails between Scylla and Charybdis - whirlpools of death; dallies with beautiful Calypso and witchy Circe; sees his sometimes mutinous crew eaten, drowned, turned into swine, until finally: home, sweet, home where Penelope waits.

The audience brought lawn chairs, some had picnics before the show, and everyone fell under the spell of the wine dark sea (billowing chiffon scarves and windy sound effects) and the cast of hundreds of gods, sailors, monsters portrayed by the Next Stage actors playing multiple roles.

You have one more chance to see the players tread the boards (or asphalt, more accurately) on Friday, July 31 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. when they perform The Taming of the Shrew. Bring your lawn chairs!

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