The Patchwork Odyssey

The Patchwork Odyssey is a very unassuming show. It doesn’t claim to be anything big and impressive, and to be fair it isn’t anything very big. But it is impressive and innovative in its own way. A semi-improvisational look at a literary classic, this show is a mixed bag of moments, full of brilliance but also full of things that need a lot of work.

This innovation is worthwhile, and leads to good moments, but the bad ones still can’t be ignored.

The show sticks to the mythical story of Odysseus that we all know, but tells it differently. At the beginning of each segment, the audience is told to pick a patch which each shows a different way that the troupe will perform the segment. This could be limiting them to 24 words, having only the male members on stage, or inserting a personal story into the telling of the story. These tasks for the most part are pretty hit or miss. The best one by far was a segment called Cello Character, in which the Troupe’s Cellist took to acting out the feelings of the Cyclops and the witch, Circe, through music. It was funny, interesting, and allowed the show to take advantage of its music, which was one of its best aspects. However, others like repetition, where the cast had to repeat one phrase a lot, or Jabbertalk, where the troupe spoke in nonsense language, didn’t work quite as well. Some of them felt more like improv comedy pieces, which clashed with the tone they were trying to present sometimes, while others ended up being simply boring.

That’s not to say that the show isn’t funny or engaging, because it certainly is. This has a lot to do with the performers, who look so earnestly happy to be performing their idea. It’s this sort of infectious charm which makes the show as fun as it is to watch, because even in some of the less interesting tasks, the troupe would make a completely unrelated quip or gag that never failed to make me at least smile, if not laugh. Beyond that, the show made a great use of music. Each scene was punctuated by spontaneous cello, which could range from mournful and deep to bright and quick. The cellist would lead and follow the scene in a way that adapted and changed almost instantly.

This show is by nature inconsistent. Some of its bits are better than others, but this is the price of doing something that forces you to come up with new things each day. This innovation is worthwhile, and leads to good moments, but the bad ones still can’t be ignored. 

Reviews by Miles Hurley


[BLANK] by Alice Birch and NYTP

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The Blurb

A group of actors and a cellist attempt to reawaken the spirit of The Odyssey using only what they can remember from reading the books. They did prepare some songs and poems for support, to be honest. To add to the fun, there are some rules: the show is cast in front of the audience; performers must incorporate all kinds of surprising tasks; the cellist can interrupt at any time with a song or noise that the actors must incorporate into the play. Join the greatest story of all time and watch the actors sink or swim.

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