Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Metamorphoses"

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note: entire contents copyright 2006 by Larry Stark


Written & Originally Directed by Mary Zimmerman
Based on the myths of Ovid in David Slavitt's translations
Directed by Nancy Curran Willis

Violinist Leila Gerstein
Scenic Design & Student Technical Direction by Colin Chauche
Costume Design by Chanee Park
Costume Supervisor Martha Heller
Technical Direction & Lighting Design by Ryan DuBray
Assistant Lighting Designer Drew Silverman
Sound Design by Ben Truppin-Brown
Hair & Makeup Design by Allison Vanderburg, Chanee Park
Dramaturge & Assistant Director Yoni Golijov
Producer Jeff Knoedler
Assistant Stage Manager & Props Master Julia Pashall
Stage Manager Max Lorn-Krause


Anya Whelan-Smith, Tess Primack, Adam Freniere, Alik Kogan

Kyle Zamcheck, Belle Fitzgibbon, Jessica Dennett, David Schlenker, Xander Jarowey, Avery Barger

Brooke Vanaman, Jessica Nurse, Greg Barrett, David Broyles, Justin Danforth, David Fisher, David Schlenker, Alex Caplow, Sarah Rosenblatt, Maia Kipman, Bill Humphrey, Raviva Hanser

Alison Gifford, David Fisher, Iris Platt, Allie Young, Leila Gerstein, Samantha Jaff, Maddie Sharton, David Schlenker, Adam Freniere

Sarah Rosenblatt, Brooke Vanaman, Adam Freniere, Charlotte Hendren, David Schlenker

Alik Kogan, Becky Karpovsky, Belle Fitzgibbon, Jessica Dennett, David Broyles

Jessica Nurse, Allie Young, Iris Platt, Justin Danforth, David Fisher, Anya Whelan-Smoth, Raviva Hanser, Samantha Jaff, Alison Gifford, Will Morningstar, Avery Bargar, Maia Kipman, Kyle Zamcheck, Maddie Sharton, Alex Caplow, Adam Freniere, Antonia Lassar

Alie Kogan, Becky Karpovsky, Justin Danforth, Antonia Lassar

Tess Primack, Raviva Hanser, Alex Caplow, Sarah Rosenblatt

Tess Primack, David Broyles, Samantha Lappin, Brooke Vanaman

Greg Barrett, Jeannie Yoon, Avery Bargar

Kyle Zamcheck, Belle Fitzgibbon, Xander Jarowey, Anya Whelan-Smith, Sarah Rosenblatt, Adam Freniere

Samantha Jaff, Adam Freniere, Justin Danforth, Allie Young, Charlotte Hendren, Jessica Nurse, Will Morningstar, Brooke Vanaman, Sarah Rosenblatt, Alison Gifford, Becky Karpovsky


David Broyles, Alex Caplow, Alison Gifford, Charlotte Hendren, Samantha Lappin, Maia Kipman, Iris Platt, Jeannie Yoon

Justin Danforth, David Fisher, Will Morningstar, Becky Karpovsky, Allie Young, Leila Gerstein

Alison Gifford, Samantha Lappin, Maddie Sharton, Jeannie Yoon, Kyle Zamcheck


Jessica Dennett, Samantha Jaff, Becky Karpovsky, Maia Kipman, Antonia Lassar, Iris Platt

The gods of Greece oversaw a world of often harshly cruel fact, but their myth-makers often tempered their cruelties with compassionate gifts --- but their generosities came with changes. Strong human emotions often were commemorated by immortality as a symbol of that emotion --- as a crying sea-bird, as a flower, as a pair of intertwining trees, as a fragrant bush, or just as a story so compelling as to ring through people's hearts and minds for several thousand years. So the people in Mary Zimmerman's poolside recreations of Ovid's "Metamorphoses" are both emotional human beings, and abstractly personified ideas. The high school thespians of Newton South High School bring these ideas vibrantly alive.

Director Nancy Curran Willis uses narrators and water itself to lend that abstracting distance; her young actors supply the emotion. In some cases people are overwhelmed, drowned in emotion, only to emerge transformed. In the myth of Alcyone and her sailor-husband Ceyx, he drowns defying the capricious sea winds but her grief changes them into eternal sea birds. The selfless hospitality of Baucis and Philemon to disguised gods is rewarded by eternal life together, but as trees. Narcissus loves his reflection so much he's still admiring it, as a flower.

Zimmerman's approach to these fourteen tales is as capriciously inventive as the gods they invoke. Phaeton, the son of Apollo who disastrously piloted the sun, tells his story lounging in dark shades on a float, with his therapist supplying psychological interpretations reflecting Freud, Jung, and Joe Campbell. The story of Eros (love) and Psyche (soul) illustrates a question/answer narration. It's three tired laudresses who tell the tale of King Midas as a critical portrait of the rich who employ them.

Ryan DuBray and his assistant Drew Silverman create surprising effects with lights --- spangling the set with stars or cut-out shapes, and now and again reflections of the shimmering water throw shadows against the background. And Colin Chauche's set design provides a cloud-space from which gods can look down on mortals, or descent a staircase to enter the world through a door the handle of which is one of Zeus's thunderbolts.

The expanded cast here is focused not on individual star-turns, but on bringing life to these myths. Again and again actors re-appear, now as a major character, now as one of a chorus. Their jobs and their costumes (by Chanee Park with Martha Heller's supervision) and their performances are as ever-changing as the water they perform in, and around.

(a k a larry stark)

"Metamorphoses" (19 - 21 October)
140 Brandeis Road, NEWTON MA

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide