Imaginative "Metamorphoses" Weaves A Liquid Spell
By FRANK RIZZO
First impressions: It takes a bold leap of imagination to stage and it makes a staggering physical undertaking as well, but West Hartford’s resilient little theater is presenting a nicely staged, acted and produced version of the Tony Award-nominated work that takes the myths in Ovid’s narrative poem and gives them a contemporary language and attitude.
But of course, everyone will first talk about the wading pool on stage and yes, there’s a beaut within this cozy space. It makes a memorable impression and gives these tales a fluid, dreamy and very cool context. But it’s the talented young cast that weaves a liquid spell that is sure to have the gods smiling.
Didn’t we see this show before in Hartford? In 2004, Hartford Stage presented a production and it did very well with audiences and critics. In a way, I liked seeing this production even more because of the intimacy of the theater.
Does the audience get wet? No, it’s not a Gallagher concert.
What’s it about?: A series of ancient myths centering on human imperfection and (sometimes) divine intervention are related and enacted by an ensemble of young actors in a zen-like setting surrounding a pool. There’s the tale of King Midas (as Wall Street powerhouse), of Alcycon and Ceyx, of Orpheus and Eurydice, of Apollo (as spoiled trust fund brat), of Myrrha (forbidden love of a daughter for her father and its tragic consequences). Other mythic characters make cameo appearances. (A funny bit with Pandora is my favorite.)
Co-artistic director Sean Harris gracefully, playfully stages and choreographs his committed company with good sense, style and puckish good humor, though some of the endings to the stories miss the dramatic mark. But others are quite moving, especially the concluding one provokes a tear or two. (Ah, the power of a classic myth well-told.)
The actors? Non-Equity but thoroughly professional, appealing and quite good. (I wish photos or character names were in the program because the actors are only identified with names such as “First Woman” or “Fifth Man.” They are: David Goldman, Harrison Greene, Melissa Kaufman, Eric Whitten, Troy Peckham, Justin Sease, Ashley C. Williams, Amelia Campbell, Quinn Warren and Jillian Rorrer.
Who will like it? Greek and Roman classical scholars. Those who enjoy a well-told and acted story. Most gods.
Who won’t? Those allergic to chlorine.
For the kids? There a brief glimpse of male nudity toward the end of the show, but otherwise perfectly fine for high schoolers and up. Those younger might not appreciate its lyrical style of story telling.
Worth the price of admission? This is a new feature in my review. Looking at the ticket price, I’d say this is one of the best theater bargains in town.
Twitter review in 140 characters or less: Ancient myths are recreated in a dreamy, elegant, contemplative spell of a show. Storytelling as spa treatment.
Thoughts on leaving the parking lot: Talk about transformation. With this sizable and ambitious production, Playhouse on Park rises and takes themselves to another level.
The basics: The show only runs through Sunday so get to this production before it closes. Last one at the pool’s a rotten egg. Running time is 90 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $22.50 to $32.50 (students, seniors and Let’s Go Arts members get $2.50 off per ticket). Information: 860-523-5900 ext. 10 and www.PlayhouseOnPark.org.