**** PLEASANCE DOME (VENUE 23)
THE Greek myths may be laden with epic tales of love, death, war and adventure, but they're not always the easiest of things to follow. And one of the most enduring – Homer's Odyssey – can so easily spiral into a bundle of confusion, with its retrospective action and vast array of characters.
However, George Mann of Theatre Ad Infinitum has a performance style so engaging that nothing is lost. Each segment of the plot unfolds with perfect clarity.
To each new arrival in the plot Mann ascribes a facial expression or hand gesture so unique that we are left in no doubt as to where he is, who he is, and what he's doing.
As the hour passes, the gestures build up into a kind of physical theatre sign language, so that the most fleeting nuance is instantly recognisable to us. Be it the slimy suitors, self-assured but homesick Odysseus, his bold but confused son, Telemachus, or faithful wife, Penelope – all pour forth from this talented Lecoq-trained performer.
Standing alone on a bare stage, dressed simply in T-shirt and casual trousers, Mann has nothing to hide behind – there is no set or fancy lighting; he has just his own pliable body which helps us to build images of Ithaca and Calypso's island in our own mind. It's not the biggest of stages in the Pleasance Dome, but even then, Mann hardly uses it. Most of the action takes place within a few square feet, so refined are his movements.
Exhibiting all the signs of a true craftsman, Mann doesn't need anything flashy to deliver this one-man show, just a complete and utter understanding of Homer's original text, a love of storytelling, great physical movement and the power to hold an audience in the palm of his hand.
Until today, 4:20pm.