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BWW Review – ODYSSEUS FILO, The Coronet Theatre, London

The second edition of the Italian Theatre Festival comes to end with a real gem.

Multi-talented performer Marco Paolini graces the stage of The Coronet with a tremendous take on the myth of Ulysses. Accompanied by Saba Anglana and Lorenzo Monguzzi, he delivers a devastatingly honest tale of loss and retribution.

Paolini is well known in Italy for being a gifted storyteller and extraordinarily specific and precise writer; in Odysseus Filò he draws onto the primal desire for listening to stories. Anglana and Monguzzi act as instigators of his retelling: they drive his narration and prompt him, becoming the supporting characters in his heroic travels as well as rapt audience.

His charisma and savoir faire are only the tip of the iceberg in this spectacular performance. The original script - evolved from his earlier In The Age of Gods at Piccolo Teatro di Milano co-written with Francesco Niccolini and directed by Gabriele Vacis - presents precise and unequivocal beauty: regional idiosyncrasies, brutal language, elevated and solemn speech are all part of the gorgeous journey.

He undocks the action from any time periods, using ancient jargon as well as plenty of modern references in a colloquial and exceptionally accessible script. He's entrancing in his delivery. Effortlessly funny, he deploys educated humour that - as per his usual style - is everything but alienating, pulling his crowd in and including them into his story on a passionate level.

The musical elements provided by Anglana and Monguzzi are essential to the timeless outcome of the tale. Their songs and sounds are combined with a lighting design that makes the most out of The Coronet's architectural features, shaping the visuals into an atmospheric emotional feast that transports Odysseus's intimate enterprise.

Paolini strips the theatricals down to what the core of the craft is: simple storytelling made great by the use of language and feeling.

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