In the era of #MeToo, the staging of a play that looks at Homer’s Odyssey from the perspective of women is at once timely, necessary and even rather amusing.
Opening tonight (Nov. 28) at St. Mary’s Church hall in Oak Bay, the third-year students from the Canadian College of Performing Arts – known collectively as the Company C Studio Ensemble– are staging six performances of Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad.
The story takes audience members back to ancient Greece, where Odysseus’ wife, Penelope and her 12 wronged maids take you through their side of the story.
The Company C cast presents a predominantly female chorus, amplifying the play’s themes concerning current global issues like classicism, gender equality and harassment. One can draw similarities to the women’s movement as well as the #MeToo campaign.
“It’s an incredible piece for young women, and it’s a great experience for both the cast and the audience,” director Ron Jenkins, collaborating with choreographer Laura Krewski, said in a release. His hope is that the play will resonate with the audience and inspire them to think about its themes.
This poignant play was first co-produced by National Arts Centre (Ottawa) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (Stratford-upon-Avon) in 2007.
Atwood has called The Penelopiad “an echo of an echo of an echo” of the myths and legends about The Trojan War. Comparing the story to the TV show Desperate Housewives, she joked that “[with an] absent husband, teenage son giving lip and breaking curfew [and] a servant problem – who wouldn’t be desperate?”
The shows run nightly at 7:30 p.m. from Wednesday, Nov. 28 to Saturday, Dec. 1, with matinees showing at 2 p.m. on Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. The Saturday matinee is a “relaxed performance,” suited to those people who find the theatre environment challenging.
Tickets are $27.50 for adults, $23.50 for seniors and $18.50 for people under 30 or CCPA alumni. You can find them online at ccpacanada.com, or by phone at 250-595-9970. A content advisory lists mature themes and language, and simulated sexual content and violence.