November 23, 2006

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Curtain Calls
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

• New version of an old story: NH Theater Project’s The Odyssey is the U.S. premiere of London playwright David Farr’s 2005 retelling of Homer’s epic. The show was tightly presented at the intimate West End Studio Theatre in Portsmouth, Sunday, Nov. 12. The David Farr version is a very accessible version of Homer’s work. Farr references a modern-day government detention center, where Odysseus is held after he washes up on a foreign shore. Farr also uses the story to focus on the modern-day refugee whose country has been decimated but whom no other country wants to host.

Five of the actors in the six-person ensemble cast played more than one character. This is a physical show that requires lots of energy to stage. Blair Hundertmark, who directed and also plays Odysseus, has the luxury of portraying only one character, but was also appearing in Oedipus Rex with Manchester’s New Art Theatre – plenty of heavy lines to memorize.

Violinist Sam Goodall’s performance of the gypsy-influenced score arranged for NH Theatre Project by Agnes Charlesworth was particularly effective in setting atmosphere.

While singing during a party scene, the actors try to engage the audience as if they are sitting at the edge of the party, not around a stage. A short song by handmaidens of a goddess (mostly played by males) channeled Monty Python skits.

To stage The Odyssey, NH Theatre Project rearranged their black box stage so that the risers were used for the musicians instead of the audience and chairs surround the stage floor. Poles between the seats served to represent the masts and oars of a ship, making spectators very much a part of the show. The central prop was an ingenious table that could be lowered to represent drifting wreckage, raised to be used as a table in an interrogation room, or expanded to be used as a bed, among other reinventions. Ikea would be jealous.

For the $20 ticket price (two-for-one discount for students, seniors and starving artists) this professional show is an excellent value. The Odyssey continues through Nov. 26 at W.E.S.T. 959 Islington St., Portsmouth, 431-6644.

• Mob story: The Nashua Theatre Guild is at again with their murder mystery dinner theater “The Altos – Like the Sopranos, Only Lower,” written by David Landau with music and lyrics by Nikki Stern. See it Wednesday, Nov. 29, at Del Vaudo’s Restaurant, 112 W. Pearl St., Nashua. Dinner and show cost $40. Call 598-8007.


11/16/2006 Good theater

11/9/2006 Preview roundup
11/2/2006 Access to the ancients
10/26/2006 Aida on a Nashua stage
10/19/2006 Children of a Lesser God brilliantly played
10/12/2006 A true love triangle
10/05/2006 Curtain Calls
09/28/2006 Bringing people back to life
09/21/2006 Getting judged
09/14/2006 Long strange journey
09/07/2006 Curtain Calls
08/31/2006 Curtain Calls
08/24/2006 Putting kids in charge
08/17/2006 Curtain Calls
08/10/2006 All theater, all summer
08/03/2006 A Jesus musical, reworked
07/27/2006 A match made in Maine
07/20/2006 Variations on a theme
07/13/2006 I Hate Hamlet
07/06/2006 Serious theater
06/29/2006 L.A. in Peterborough
06/22/2006 Da Vinci to Rube Goldberg
06/15/2006 Peter Bridges remembered
06/08/2006 From Hairspray to monkeys
06/01/2006 Special Theatrics
05/25/2006 Live Brit-com
05/18/2006 Evil stepsisters earn the yuks
05/11/2006 A message to mom
05/04/2006 Meet the cast
04/27/2006 'I hope i get it'
04/20/2006 Find yourself in Yonkers
04/13/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
04/06/2006 Nashua rocks The Wiz
03/30/2006 Cabaret is Mnchester bound
03/23/2006 A 42nd Street detour
03/16/2006 Actor-director wants your ideas
02/23/2006 Yellow Taxi's Theater Festival opens March 1
02/16/2006 Herding CATS
02/09/2006 An actors' studio
02/02/2006 A thing about love
01/26/2006 Spring theater season warming up
01/19/2006 Gearing up for the big night
01/12/2006 This Phantom is not a menace
01/05/2006 Jim Kelly, sci-fi writer and alternate historian
10th anniversary at Capitol Center
10 Ways To Survive The Audition
A Chorus Line
A Figaro Worth Cheering
A 'Living Newspaper' on stage
A tale of two wives
A Tribute To Music
Actorsingers Deliver On Superstar
Beauty and the Beast
Bedford Off-Broadway Gets Spooky
Being The Beatles, 1964 The Tribute
Bringing NYC to Wilton
Creating the venue from antiques
Crimes Of The Heart
Curtain to rise on Dana Center
Dana Center Takes Center Stage
Ensemble elevates Palace’s Godspell
From stage to the silver screen
Great play, too bad it’s over
Greater Tuna
Humble Boy
It’s cabaret, hear it sing, joke, tease
It's Child's Play
Jesus Christ Superstar
Kids Tackle Edgar Allan Poe
Local boy hits the big time, doesn’t lose his head
Lowell theater opens with a winner of a satire
Madco welcomes Boston actor-director
Meet John Sefel, Director
Meet Suzanne Delle, Yellow Taxi’s driver
Music Man to run three weekends
New Thalian Players
Palace announces 2005-06 season
Peterborough Players’ Solidarity is solid gold
Plaid
Plaid (II)
Playing with man’s best friend
Proud of the Peacock
Racy, crazy blast at the Palace
Reviving His Passion
Robert Dionne, The man behind the Majestic
Rosemary Dann
Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know
Short-Attention Span Theater
Side Show
Sideshow slips sideways
Spending The Summer On Stage
Stages of learning
Steel Magnolias
Suessical: The Musical
Theater Of The Imagination
Theater Kids Without A School
Theater in the park draws big
The Drawer Boy
The Festival
The Five best shows of 2005
The Prisoner Of Second Avenue
The Russian/American Kids Circus
The Senator Wore Pantyhose
The Tony Awards, they're grrrrreat
The Warmth Of The Cold
Three nights, three shows at the Palace
Tosca

Under the Caribbean with the little mermaid

Wake up to ‘night Mother