Saturday, April 21, 2007


I held off on posting anything about this Friday evening performance of Alcestis until almost a week after watching it because I couldn't find much to say about it positively. I'm hoping the Chorus has since pulled together their synchronization and that the entire cast has solidified their grasp of the text: this is a fine translation by Ted Hughes, even if the play's second half derails into a subplot about Heracles (and then into a subplot about Prometheus). Sandwiched between serious Greek drama, the Heracles segment is pure comedy, and David D'Agostini, when he isn't overplaying the role, conveys an earnest authenticity to it. Unfortunately, J. Scott Reynolds, directs the play without an ounce of subtlety -- Kevin Lapin's Vulture chews the scenery more than Prometheus's liver -- and D'Agostini's set, a pallid display of gauzy curtains, really is just a flimsy background, and doesn't help to convey the complexity of the show at all.

Reynolds also seems unwilling to commit fully to any one decision: Alcestis is a drama queen in this performance (matched only by Admetos, who acts like a real queen), but that's at odds with how she returns at the end of the play, all smiles and roses. Using the chorus to make ambient sounds is a nice flourish, and could be very creepy in the long stretches of weepy monologues, but half-assed, it's just a distracting and awkward sound effect. As for the blocking, there seems to be little rhyme or reason to it: the chorus is constantly reshuffled to new positions, rarely in Greek movement, almost as if they are looking for feng shui and failing. As Hughes writes, "Abuse is the echo of abuse." This production, malnourished from the start, is the echo of itself.

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