The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey

Nicholas Rawling leads an extremely talented ensemble well versed in all aspects of creative art on a journey into the life of the famed Odysseus.

What begins as a blank projector canvas is quickly brought to life by the hands of an illustrator as Nicholas creates the characters of the Odyssey from scratch in front of our very eyes. By simply moving the paper around, he segues into drawing more characters, wolves and gods who are surrounded by plumes of inky blackness in a bid to make them more terrifying.

A three piece musical orchestra operates off to the side creating astonishing aural feats with a treasure chest full of instruments. Chris Reed’s work on the guitar deserves particular note as he utilises harmonics and a variety of foot pedal pre sets in order to get the right tone for the scenes Nicholas and Imogen Charleston filter effortlessy across the screen.

The rapid boar hunt at the beginning is an excellent scene to open with as it sets the audience up for the fun and excitement to follow. The Cyclops scene, as in the book, is another highlight. The chaotic score perfectly matches the flailing head of the beast as he runs about the cave with his giant feet and gargantuan hands clawing at his injured eye. It is both scary, impressive and wildly entertaining.

There are also modern interpretations thrown into the mix which help condense longer sections of Homer’s book. Telemachus riding on a Harley, then hitchhiking, then riding a bus all in search of his father replace what could have been repeated use of windy sea voyages. In addition, a few comedic song choices sneak into the mix such as a dulled down Mission Impossible theme tune and a foxy rendition of How Bizarre.

Ultimately, this outing is a prime example of a performance being greater than the sum of its parts. We’ve all seen someone sketch a cartoon, play the guitar, keyboard and violin but when these specialties are combined in such an imaginative way, the result is pure genius. As Odysseus finally returns home for some good old fashioned revenge, the entire performance culminates in a resounding conclusion complete with an authentic Ukulele outro.

Better than the book, any Hollywood film adaptation and probably a whole lot easier on the environment too. It will leave you actively wanting to shake strangers in the street and tell them about it!

A 5 star show!

The show is on at Aotea Centre until 31 October.

Reviewed by Nicholas Brookland

The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey (Trailer) from The Difference Engine on Vimeo.