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Odyssey – The Paper Cinema and Battersea Arts Centre at Warwick Arts Centre

Writer: Homer (original epic)

Music: Christopher Reed, Ed Dowie, Quinta and Matthew Brown

Reviewer: Jude Evans


The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey is nothing short of exceptional. This is an ensemble performance developed out of BAC’s scratch process and made up of five performers, two puppeteers and three musicians, creating the company’s first feature length film. But this is no ordinary film. Innovative is a word often banded about, but it can be justifiably used to describe a live film produced through a multitude of art forms. The world knows that Odysseus’ voyage is one of literature’s finest tales, and through beautiful pen and ink drawings, exquisite music, and an incredible ensemble effort, The Paper Cinema prove it to be so.

It is the finely interwoven nature of the art forms which is such a joy. This is all at once film, theatre, art and music. The puppeteers, Nicholas Rawling and Imogen Charleston, skilfully operate the drawings to create the visual, animated story, while the multi-talented musicians, Christopher Reed, Francesca Simmons and Hazel Mills, seamlessly provide the score and sound effects. Together they manage to convey the tale’s intimate family relationships, with Penelope and Telemachus, right through to the grand, dramatic encounters with the Cyclops, the Sirens and the Underworld.

There might be an absence of verbal story-telling and poetry, but it is not missed. Odysseus’ story has been told in many forms over the centuries, and this continues that tradition. The pen and ink drawings, so emotive, engaging and full of humour, carry the poetry. Each image is carefully wrought, but is also endowed with a freedom which resembles the poem’s journey of being passed down from one mouth to another, morphing and developing into something new yet old each time.

The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey is a product of excellent craftsmanship and ensemble work; this is live art which needs to be seen.

Runs until 20 November 2012

Picture: James Allen


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