by Barry Taylor,
I saw the preview performance of Metamorphoses at the Bauer Theatre the other day.
The play is a collection of ancient Greek myths and heroic legends, drawn from the epic work of the Roman poet Ovid, modernized and re-interpreted by playwright Mary Zimmerman as an exploration of the uncontainable power of love. Here, love itself is a metamorphosis: a life-altering, sometimes painful rebirth into someone different and new. To lend substance to this theme, the stories play out around, above, and mostly in a pool of water that covers most of the stage. How cool is that?
The nine stories in the play explore love in all its dimensions: paternal, matrimonial, romantic, erotic, worldly, uplifting, forbidden, corruptive. Members of the large cast, mostly students, play multiple roles, appearing as a Greek god in one scene, perhaps a sailor in the next, and a narrator in a third. The pool too serves multiple purposes, according to the story. People walk in it, float in it, bath in it, wash clothes in it, sail on it, drown in it, pass out in it, and have sex in it. Water, the great transformer, is everywhere (including, sometimes, on audience members seated in the front row. Talk about an immersive experience).
The stories themselves are as varied: some comic, some tragic, some familiar, some strange, some set in modern times, others timelessly classic. A drowned sailor and his grieving wife are transformed into sea birds; Orpheus bravely descends into the underworld to rescue his bride from Hades; the gods punish a disrespectful man by consuming him with hunger.
It’s all very metaphorical, and I have to say, at times a little bit strange. But there was no mistaking the strong emotional reactions of last night’s audience. I recommend you go see it, if you have the time. Metamorphoses represents a great deal of work by a troupe of dedicated people, under the steady hand of Artistic Director Andrea Boyd, and the result is a powerful and engaging piece of theatre.
You can get tickets here or at the door.
Barry R. Taylor, Associate Professor
Dept. of Biology, St. Francis Xavier University