Angel Island State Park Tiburon, Calif.
This is an odyssey in every sense of the word, said Chad Jones in the San Francisco Chronicle. Using a historic, beautiful island in San Francisco Bay as their stage, the We Players have created an “extraordinary” five-and-a-half-hour theater experience that requires its audience to hike three to four miles of hilly terrain. The company’s “beautifully executed production” begins as soon as participants step off a morning ferry near the island’s visitors center, where Penelope is awaiting the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War. In a departure from Homer, the focus of the drama is on Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, who sets out in search of his father, with the audience on his trail. Along the way, there are monsters, gods, feasts, fights—and a backdrop that “all but upstages the story.”
“It helps a great deal to be familiar with The Odyssey in advance,” said Sam Hurwitt in the Marin, Calif., Independent Journal. Director Ava Roy’s “impressionistic riff” on the epic poem is otherwise hard to follow, especially because the sequence of events is “determined by the geography of the island.” Still, the 12-member cast “does a terrific job of peopling the island with at least 40-odd characters, abetted by a large acoustic band of wandering troubadours playing a jazzy score.” James Udom is every inch the sincere young Telemachus, Libby Kelly serves as a “sweet-voiced” Penelope, and all the performers work to make the audience feel part of the drama. Soon, the point of the story almost doesn’t matter. “This trip is all about the journey.”