Wednesday, 23 September 1998

I Cyclops by Robert McNamara, Sept 23, 1998

 I Cyclops by Robert McNamara
At La Mama until October 4, 1998
Reveiwed around Sept 23 1998

Cyclops is a sad old creature. He lives, blinded, on an island off Sicily with only his flocks for the absence of his Cyclopian brothers.

American writer, Robert McNamara, in his comic-tragic monologue, I Cyclops, has extrapolated on the one-eyed monster who is encountered by Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. The giant, before his blinding at the hands of the Greek sailors, is represented as a farcical figure who craves company, is a virgin and delights in the ambrosia given to him by the cunning marooned sailors.

William Gluth, directed by Malcolm Robertson, plays Cyclops as a scruffy, crippled grumbler wearing a tail coat and John Lennon sunglasses. He scuttles about the space, telling his tale of woe and bemoaning his fate. with only a table and chair to assist him on his journey.

McNamara derives his comedy from the pastiche of styles which works better at some times than others. There are snatches of Black American songs and characters, bad puns and witty references. There are some vulgar gags such as Cyclops' brothers being called Copraphilius, Necrophilius and Prophilaxis.

Gluth works hard in this solo show and has some high points, particularly when he plays the drunken Cyclops. His early nerviness gives way to a more relaxed and funny performance in which he more fully inhabits the giant, both vocally and physically. His comic timing is much better and his performance less mannered than in early sections in which he seems less connected with the character.

He peoples the stage with characters as he plays the group of smarmy, devious sailors as well as Cyclops and other incidental characters.

McNamara's text is patchy and wanders towards the end. There is a very odd interpolation of a court case in which "Dr. Cyclops" is tried by a Germanic judge who seems to resemble Freud. It takes a long time to reach the climax when Cyclops is blinded and there are unnecessary and unclear detours on the way.

Malcolm Robertson's direction keeps this one hour play simple and uncluttered. The tragedy of poor, lonely, blinded Cyclops is evident in the production although it could be milked further. the balancing of the grotesque,the comic and the dramatic is difficult but mostly effective.

By Kate Herbert

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