The play Metamorphoses was written by Mary Zimmerman and based on The Myths of Ovid, which are tales of godly intervention. Len Falkenstein directed the performance and the choices in music, set design, and costumery were magnificent.
The story borrowed characters and elements from the Greek mythos, including King Midas, Erysichthon being punished by Hunger, and Vertumnus retelling the tale of Myrrha and Cinyras. All of the stories reveal humanity’s faults, as they are swiftly punished by the wrath of Gods. The production’s scenes were nearly uniform in their excellence; however, the story of Hunger, Myrrha and her father, and Eros and Psyche’s interaction were by far the most captivating scenes.
The production’s score was unique, incorporating an atmospheric soundscape that included the sounds of waves and birds. Zoe O’Regan scored the entire production – primarily using violin and guitar, with shakers and drums to add intensity to the actors’ portrayals. O’Regan not only played live music with a delightful use of strings, but also appeared as Hera – in the shadows of the memorial hall balcony until that point. The score gave the theatre such a mystical energy as it reverberated from the ceiling. The dings of Midas’ steps after his wish had come true rang loudly and had uncanny coordination with the actors’ movements.
The stage was set so that the audience sat on each side, and the corridor to enter the theatre was an entry/exit of actors and deities appearing above the hall along the balcony’s railing. The setup really gave the illusion of “the gods up in the clouds.” The permanent stage had chairs set up on each side, elongating the built stage on the floor. The stage incorporated a hexagonal surface, with a small pool cut from it, illuminated by top lighting and floodlights in the pit, including water no less! The stage also featured a hatch where the actors could enter from below and appear from the hole once more. For much of the show, I simply could not figure out if there was an exit underneath the stage.
The production’s lighting featured textured elements such as water ripples and light through trees, as well as a plethora of mood lighting. Memorably, when Hunger appeared, the lights immediately went red and had a bright ember texture below her as she was slinking around on all fours. The thundering scene had flashes of eerie greens and bright whites that conjured up images of a storm’s lightning sent by Poseidon.
The deities looked Divine as imagined. They wore flowing gowns with slits and gold jewelry as accents. One particular highlight was the shimmery reversible cloak used during the transformation of Myrrah. A golden mask in the shape of the sun for the depiction of Apollo was also a highlight. The story of Eros and Psyche had such a beautiful look, as Psyche donned a luxurious floor-length robe with fur trim, and Eros was cloaked in a velvet-feathered garment, carrying excess fabric on the sleeves to mimic the illusion of a winged beast.
The play was plainly immersive. The story’s poetic fallacies of humans and the wrath of the divine was rounded off with a comparatively happy ending, as a tale of true love and the moral of kindness unto strangers came to a close. The play’s final few scenes see Midas wash his hands in a pool, rinsing himself of his affliction. The audience watches as Midas’ daughter morphs into her human form, and she is brought back from a solid gold statue to a fully breathing woman, full of life. The play ends with Midas embracing her daughter, neatly tying off the play’s themes, motifs, and character arcs.