A welcome alternative to the summer action hero

The Wandering of Odysseus: Lotus Eaters (Donnie Hill, Rush Rehm, L. Peter Callender)
The Wanderings of Odysseus: Lotus Eaters (Donnie Hill, Rush Rehm, L. Peter Callender)

This is your last chance for a welcome reprieve from the summer action hero peddled at the local theater. Tired of the usual movie fare? Try a little Odysseus, who, after all, is known more for his brains than his brawn.

Stanford Summer Theater is offering The Wanderings of Odysseus through Aug. 15.

How has the production been going this summer?

“Good, brilliant, excellent,” said director RUSH REHM, professor of drama and classics.

This hero is so complicated, he’s played by four different actors at different points in the production.

“Part of the problem of one person playing Odysseus is it’s like one person playing two Hamlets back to back. It’s too much,” said Rehm. “The second thing is that although we identify with Odysseus throughout the poem, he’s very hard to get your hands around. He’s ‘the man of twists and turns.’”

Rehm describes The Odyssey as a fantastic tale centered on intimate, human values.

“I see the epic as a kind of developmental story of a man who grows in wisdom, not in the abstract sense but in how to get through the world,” said Rehm. “Odysseus is returning to his mortality, to his aging wife, to his home, restoring as much as he can the world before the war disrupted everything. But as the poem by Cavafy suggests [“Ithaca,” 1911], these are experiences that can only come if he’s going somewhere.”

Rehm said Odysseus presents a protagonist very different from the “myths” of our culture today.

“All this is about a world that suggests more complications, and if you don’t meet these complications, you will fail. You can’t nuke it.”

Read more about the production in Stanford Report.

—Sam Julian