La Odisea, but were turned down for logistical reason' />

Teatro de Los Andes, based in Bolivia, offered to stage their "earthquake play" here instead of La Odisea, but were turned down for logistical reasons.

As it happens, much echoes the ongoing Christchurch tragedy anyway, in this powerful, angry retelling of the full Odyssey, which is successfully reset to chart immigrant labour travelling north and returning in the present day Americas.

Characters long for absent lovers, children and parents, not knowing if they are dead; they ache in indefinite exile; and a joyfully-anticipated homecoming becomes complex and difficult.

But human agency - politics, poverty and war - rather than natural disaster is the main reason for Odisea misery.

Wise Athena points out that while Ulysses comes home to a wrecked home, in Troy he wrecked the homes of others too. His unmerciful treatment of Penelope's suitors and, worse, her raped slaves is graphically emphasised.

But far from unrelenting woe, La Odisea has a light touch and many moments of hilarity (doddery Zeus can't work his mobile phone and needs messenger Hermes to do it for him). Cheeky references to rugby work well.

The staging, collectively devised with direction from Cesar Brie, is mostly literal, but draws on physical theatre traditions.

Dust, water, spit, sand, food and blood are all poured out like libations to the gods.

Large, almost musical bamboo curtains give the minimalist set warmth and flexible staging. The fantastic, innumerable costumes and excellent characterisations individualise each scene - boho red for sorceress Circe; black and gold for flashy Menelaus; upper class cream for the gods.

The multicultural ensemble - actors who play music and dance a little - are very good, and obviously care deeply about the present day stories they tell.

The translations from Spanish, on subtitles, show poetic lines pregnant with meaning which draw cleverly on Homer: "no one" kills the cyclops, because illegal immigrants are nobodies.

There's no false happy-ending catharsis - in a rare and significant departure from the original structure, Ulysses tells Penelope he will have to leave again, underlining globalisation's real and current pressures.

It pays to be familiar with Homer's flashback plotting and multiple plotlines, and some moments are glossed over too quickly, but La Odisea is engrossing for its entire run of almost three hours.

Relevant, intelligent and moving.

*La Odisea runs at the Maidment Theatre until March 12th