Theater: Division of Theater opens season with a splash

By Meryl Gottlieb|| @buzzlightmeryl

Picture 6_58The moment I stepped into the Forum Theater and saw the finished set for Metamorphoses, I knew I was going to love the show, and I was right.

I had the privilege of delving into the behind-the-scenes world of Metamorphoses for a previous Post article that detailed the amount of work that goes into Division of Theater mainstage shows. I sat in on a production meeting, wandered around the bustling costume department, observed a rehearsal and saw sparks fly in the scene shop.

It was incredibly interesting to see costume ideas be translated from drafting boards to the finished product, to notice changes in actors’ movement from rehearsals to the stage and to see how the meticulous details discussed in the production meetings were incorporated into the show.

Thus, my excitement level for the show may have been higher than under normal circumstances. Nevertheless, the show will definitely still impress the general audience.

Metamorphoses by Mary Zimmerman, is an adaptation of an Ovid poem. Dealing with transformation and change, the play follows myths that tackle epic themes such as love, loss, desire and greed. And it’s all set in a pool.

Phaeton, played by Andy Danford, floats on a raft and recounts his relationship with his father, Apollo, the god of sun (Olivia Wallace | Staff Photographer)

Phaeton, played by Andy Danford, floats on a raft and recounts his relationship with his father, Apollo, the god of sun (Olivia Wallace | Staff Photographer)

And I’m not talking about a blow-up kiddie pool in the middle of a stage. The pool is the entire stage.

For those of you who sit in the front row, expect to get a little wet. As is the way with the Forum Theater, the people who sit in the front row are less than 5 feet from the action and may be splashed occasionally.

Holding 4,000 gallons of water and reaching up to a height of almost 3 feet, the pool itself becomes another character in the play as the actors interact with the element. Hitting the water in a fit of rage or stumbling across the pool as they mourn a loss, the actors’ actions and even their emotions are amplified by being placed in the water.

The show runs about 90 minutes without an intermission. Many will be familiar with the tales of King Midas, Eros and Psyche and Orpheus and Eurydice while they may learn about Myrrha, Phaeton and Alcyone and Ceyx. Each member of the Metamorphoses ensemble plays at least four separate roles.

Do not think that because this play is about myths that you will not understand it. The show is an adaptation of the poem and features accessible language about stories that we can all relate to.

If you wish for absolute clarity about the myths discussed in the show during the performance, read this quick synopsis on the play’s Wikipedia page. It is not that the actors do not perform the material well, it is just that I often found myself staring in awe of all that was happening — the movements, the water, the set and the stories themselves — that I sometimes missed a name or part of the narration.

That set is not something you get over quickly.

Another reason to admire the setting is the fact that there is an underwater exit within the pool. I’ll leave you to see that wonder for yourself.

The pool is certainly something that will catch your eye, but it is not the only interesting piece of scenery. A God platform stands above the back edge of the pool and is adorned with beautiful teal walls. Next to that is a beautifully designed tree with intertwining branches that plays into a myth discussed in the show.

Psyche, played by Kat Bramley, sees her love Eros, the god of love, played by Mbali Guliwe, for the first time (Olivia Wallace | Staff Photographer)

Psyche, played by Kat Bramley, sees her love Eros, the god of love, played by Mbali Guliwe, for the first time (Olivia Wallace | Staff Photographer)

I’d be remiss to continue without mentioning the stunning costumes designed by third-year graduate student Ricky Lurie. When I interviewed him for the behind-the-scenes story, he mentioned how his plan was to take the Greek influence and still make it look very modern. Typically, I am not one to comment on costumes. My wardrobe usually consists of a T-shirt and jeans, so by no means am I an expert on design. However, even I could see how the simple addition of a necklace could take a rather causal modern outfit and turn it into something that fit perfectly with the style of the show. The various white dresses worn by many of the women in the show screamed of a Greek influence but looked very modern. Plus, the color palette complemented the water in such a perfect way.

The scenery and costumes are all brilliant, but they would mean nothing without an incredibly talented ensemble to put them into practice. Specifying certain actors’ performances over others almost seems wrong for there is no hierarchy in the cast; it is an ensemble show. Everyone has a role in which they shine and capture the moment of the scene so well.

Overall, the show is a visual dream and performed very well. Those who love theater will definitely enjoy the show for the very reasons I listed, and even those who aren’t huge fans of the theater can still appreciate the beauty of everything happening on stage. Take a break from studying for midterms and dive into Metamorphoses.


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