Taproot – Enchantment out of 4 stools, some sticks and cloth

Mark Chamberlin as Odysseus. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

What could you do with four stools, some sticks, a few pelts, and a couple pieces of cloth?

Taproot, the Seattle theatre that continues to delight, has taken these few props and created a transforming evening that carries us away to the lands of Homer’s Odysseus.  Can you imagine an evening of enchantment where 13 people play 84 parts?  This is just the type of play that Taproot excels at.

Prior to this, I had read a bit of Homer, but reading and understanding are not the same thing.  Taproot took a difficult work, and not only made it understandable, but helped Odysseus, Telemachus, and Penelope come to life.

For me, the evening was an interesting flow of sound and color.

The costumes, bold in teals and purples, identify people from different lands, gold helps identify those who are from among the Greek mythology gods and goddesses.

My favorite delight of the evening was Nicholas Beach. He played four parts, the best of which were a traveling mandrel (with a great voice), and Hermes.  Odysseus is not a musical, but Nicholas has several solos in which his voice quiets the house with its clarity. Nicholas is a young actor to watch.  His ability to handle diversity in roles will take him far.

The hero of the evening, Mark Chamberlin, Odysseus, was impressive.  His voice is awesome – deep and commanding, he can speak from anywhere in the theatre (including the aisles up in the audience), and own the room.

Instead of singing, the women chant at different points.  Pam Nolte, Jesse Notehelfer, and  Sarah Roquemore delighted with a fun dance and chant.  One of the highlights of the evening was the terrific dialogue of the Sirens – again done in chant – played by Pam Nolte, Jesse Notehelfer, April Wolfe and  Sarah Roquemore.

Nikki Visel is an incredible actress.  It is a delight to watch her grow in her ability to command the stage.  In this play, she is Athena – the one constant throughout the play, who keeps watch over Odysseus.

Nolan Palmer as Eumaeus, Nikki Visel as Athena, and Mark Chamberlin as Odysseus. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

There were no weak actors.  Randy Scholz pulled of a great bit of acting. Nolan Palmer, a favorite of mine did not fail to deliver, and Stephen Grenley gave a great performance – taking on the brusquer character, much like he has played in the past.

Last, I want to bring attention to Taproot’s use of puppets again – it was just a small scene, but there was a six-handed (at least 4 headed) monster that was terrific.

I leave you with a quote – I am curious to your response to it:  “Even when we get what we want most, our better sense denies reality.”

Want to enjoy the enchantment yourself?  Check out Taproot’s website.

 

 

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