Charlie Bethel brings one-man The Odyssey home

Charlie Bethel.

Charlie Bethel.

The Odyssey is a story as old as the hills. Actually, some hills may be younger than Homer's epic adventure about a man's 10-year-long quest to get home.

It has endured because it is an exciting and funny adventure. Charlie Bethel's one-man version of the piece brings all of that home in a two-hour package that will also move you in the end.

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[jump] Bethel has been seen on local stages in the past with a variety of solo shows, including an hour-long interpretation of Beowulf previously produced by Walking Shadow Theatre Company.

Walking Shadow and Bethel team up again here, using the intimate house of Open Eye Figure Theatre to great effect. The stage is loaded with artifacts from Odysseus' adventures: a hatchet here, a foil there, a box with a suckling pig (okay, a very cute toy stuffed pig) in the front.

Bethel's adaptation is a knowing one, full of riffs that will make people who studied the classics feel very smart about their educational choices. He even takes some time to explain the ins and outs of some of the sequences. When Odysseus calls himself "Nobody" to the cyclops? It's actually a Grecian pun, as the words for "cunning" (a word Odysseus certainly would use for himself) and "nobody" are homonyms in the original language. So the show is funny, thrilling, moving, and educational.

The performer also takes his time with the story, as he spends plenty of the second act in Ithaca where our hero's wife and son are besieged by suitors. All of this material adds extra weight to the long journey home and the eventual triumph of Odysseus.


The Odyssey
Through April 6
Open Eye Figure Theatre

506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis

For tickets and more information, visit online.