Metamorphoses is Impressive in all Aspects
- Powder & Wig presents Pirandello’s Henry IV
- Theater and Dance present student shows at New Works Festival
- Conner launches Practicum
The Theater and Dance Department's production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses is definitely not one to miss. Beyond having a swimming pool built into the stage (God knows what difficulties ensued), the production is very well-executed in all aspects. Metamorphoses is technically very slick: from the lighting and the projections to the stylized movements and the costumes. Some may find this over- bearing and silly. I would normally be one of those people, (I dig productions that are low-tech) but I rather enjoyed myself and thought the production completely lived up to all the excitement that has been surrounding it. The nightly performances were beyond sold out, as people were turned away.
This play is hard to write a review about because there is not much to be said about character (since there are so many and each only occupies a few minutes on stage) or plot (since it does not exist). Basically, the play is a series of connected vignettes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, all dealing with transformation and water.
However, a single scene that is indicative of this play's strong points is the Sea Battle in the story of Ceyx and Alcyone. The Sailors, uniformly dressed, move their oars in synchronized motion, marked by halting angles after their smooth move through the water. And when Poseidon and his winds come through to devastate the ship, the actors all get in the pool and rollick in the water. I remember being so enthralled when one of Poseidon's men picked up a sailor over his shoulders, spun and threw him in the water. But it was not just chaotic splashing around, it was balletic, it was choreographed and it looked great. This combined with Peter de Klerk's effective score, (which at this moment was positively seething) made an exciting scene.
And of course, there is the pool. People being tossed around on stage would just not be as cool. The pool was especially effective in as Ceyx drowned, his head bobbing in and out of the water, submerged and then desperately gasping until he disappeared under, and the water became calm again. This disappearing into and appearing out of the water was visually stunning and happened a few more times throughout the play, but it never got old.
The entire cast of 26 did very well together; all portrayed their parts convincingly and there were no weak performances. However, I would like to single out Adan Hussain '11 who, as Vertumnus, was wonderfully comic. In this story, Vertumnus attempts to woo Pomona (who has no interest in men), with multiple disguises. Hilarity ensues. Hussain's delivery was spot on as a pining lover; his whimsically uttered "I live for these trivial moments" brought down the house, as did his exaggerated motions and emotions, reminiscent of the greater comedians of the silent movie era. Also, Maria Bastianes as Aphrodite the Goddess of Love/Sex was positively smoldering, both in her delivery and her stage presence.
Finally, some comments on lighting, projections and costumes. The decisions of lighting designer James Thurston and associate lighting designer Xi Chen '10 were effective in creating mood or enhancing the storytelling: from lighting Midas' footfalls bright yellow, turning those portions of the stage gold, or the single red spotlight on Myrrha, which portended her doomed passion, or the lighting for some hip singles' club, which played with darkness and red lights in the telling of Cupid and Psyche's story.
The choice of projecting images on the screen was also unusual but worked well, especially in the story of Erysichthon, who was punished for his godlessness by being beset with Hunger, insatiable and all-consuming. The projection consisted of an extreme close-up of a disembodied mouth eating, towering above the actors; in tandem with the action occurring on stage, it was disgusting and visceral.
The costumes were also interesting. As this play is ahistorical, the costumes consisted of very modern garb coupled with sandals, in keeping with the Greco-Roman origins. I was very taken by Euridyce's wedding dress, which was beautiful in its simplicity and in complementing her movement when she danced. And I was amused by Cupid's costume--you'll know why.
The Theater and Dance Department aimed remarkably high with Metamorphoses and delivered. It was entertaining, moving and very well performed, both by the cast and the crew. If you did not get an opportunity to see it this past weekend, there are still three more shows this weekend, November 19, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. in Strider. Tickets are administered on a first-come, first-served basis, so get there early, because people are sure to come in large numbers for the final run.