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EDINBURGH 2017 - BWW Review: THE PATCHWORK ODYSSEY, Assembly RoxyThe Odyssey is one of the most iconic stories of all time, telling the tale of Odysseus's long and epic journey home from the Trojan War. This engaging take on it from Dutch company Patchwork Theatre offers the chance to see the Greek tale in several new ways.

Welcomed by the cast into a rather dank little basement at the Assembly Roxy, the audience is offered biscuits, figs, a drink, and even a chance to sit on couches (blissful, considering the usual level of comfort with Fringe seating!).

The cast cultivates a rapport with audience members, before inviting them to take patchwork squares from a basket, each with a challenge written on the back that decides how they must perform each book of the story. For example, one scene may be mimed, another will have the cast joined together by pieces of rope, while another may have an entire book of The Odyssey summed up in one sentence.

Performed with four sticks, four ropes, a cello and some items begged from the audience, the show is endearing in its simplicity. By the end, the actors, along with the little sewn squares, have created their own unique improvised patchwork version of Homer's epic.

It's not improvisation in the usual comic sense seen on the Fringe and indeed, the four performers make it seem impressively natural. Instead, it is an interesting look at how a single narrative can be explored in so many different forms. That the story of The Odyssey stands up to these challenges is a testament to its staying power and versatility, even if some sections are clearer than others. Some knowledge of the story is useful, but you do not have to be a classical scholar to appreciate it.

Reinterpreting the classics is commonly done at the Fringe, but you are unlikely to see anything quite like The Patchwork Odyssey elsewhere. Intimate, international, inventive and, by its improvised nature, ultimately ephemeral, this production is quintessential Fringe.

The Patchwork Odyssey is at Assembly Roxy until August 28 (not 21) at 12pm.

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From This Author Amy Hanson

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