Spent an incredible day Sunday traipsing around Angel Island with family and friends, immersed in the We Players’ interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey. Not so much a retelling of the whole story (which would be impossible) as an impressionistic series of vignettes, acted out in the many strange and wonderful old buildings scattered around the island. The audience hikes between settings (five miles total), with the players acting out bits and pieces of the opus in and amongst the audience – performing soliloquies, celebrations, music and poetry culled from the amazing 1200-year-old story of a hero’s voyage.
A troupe of musicians led by a guitar-playing troubadour provides narrative context, and sets up scenes. Young Telemachus wanders the land embroiled in a ten-year voyage home from the Trojan war, trying to find his father Odysseus. When he finally returns home to Ithaca, he discovers that his father has arrived just before him, his mind ravaged by endless war. The father he has been seeking has become a monster, and it’s now up to Telemachus to do better.
Wonderful musicians thread themselves into nooks and crannies of abandoned buildings. Actors weave themselves into windows and balconies at strategic locations, calling out to each other, to the living, or from the dead. Sculpture and costumes and props pepper the mostly-natural spaces. There is humor, and sadness, provocation, and poetry. You’ll get more out of it if you have some background with the story, but even if you don’t, I can’t think of a more fascinating way to spend a day of your weekend.