On Friday, Feb. 24, Puget Sound’s run of Metamorphoses debuted in Norton Clapp Theatre. The 90-minute play is based on David R. Slavitt’s translation of Roman poet Ovid’s collection of poems.
The play, directed by John Rindo, focuses on Greco-Roman mythology and is split up into about 12 sections, including an introduction and conclusion.
First and foremost, the play is a visual spectacle. The superb costumes by Mishka Navarre, thoughtful lighting by Richard Moore and outstanding scenic design by Kurt Walls culminated in a show that was aesthetically beautiful.
The play captivates audience members from the beginning as the entire cast slowly gathered on stage in their extravagant costumes while King Midas (Jens Winship) and Midas’ Daughter (Casey Anderson) march down either side of the theatre holding candles. The visual appeal of the show is the aspect that seems to stick with the audience most of all.
After a short introduction, the play begins with the story of King Midas, a rich man, narrating his story and history directly to the audience.
Although this initial blatant exposition is a bit awkward, Winship shows off his superb acting the moment he begins to interacting with the other characters on stage. When King Midas accidentally turns his daughter into gold, the pain heard deep in Winship’s booming voice when he orders Bacchus (Bob Pore) to “take it away” is extraordinarily powerful. However, it didn’t overshadow the humor that is highlighted earlier in the scene.
After this first scene, a short interlude is provided by dancers Casey Anderson, Jessica Bailin and Lydia Douglas. This beautifully choreographed transition becomes a theme throughout the show as the dancers occasionally return, sporting different costumes each time and providing a new symbol for every scene that they introduce. The wonderfully fluid choreography by senior Kaeline Kine becomes one of the highlights of the show and adds to the visual spectacle that is created throughout the production.
Despite the visual beauty of the show and the superb performance of the actors, the show seems to fall flat in the aspect that every short scene follows the same recipe: the characters are introduced with frank exposition, the scene is sprinkled with some gimmicky humor and something heart-breaking happens at the end.
However, the reason that this play is successful is because the formula works. The audience is delighted with the show’s crash course in Greco-Roman mythology, which is communicated through a beautiful visual spectacle.
After an introduction and nine short scenes that follow the afore-mentioned formula, the final legend leaves the audience on a hopeful note.
It told the story of elderly couple Baucis and Philemon (Callie Goldfield and Alex Wyman) who win favor with the gods Zeus and Hermes (Bob Pore and Loring Brock.) The couple is granted their wish to die together as the play comes to a conclusion and every cast member returns to the stage.
King Midas is even redeemed in a short coda, in which he is washed clean of the curse of the “Golden Touch.” The play, dotted with tragedy, comes to an optimistic end.
However, due to the fact that this play is, structurally, a collection of short Greco-Roman legends, it lacks a significant arc, which, though by no means any fault of the cast, crew or director, is slightly unsatisfying.
Despite the structural flaws, Puget Sound’s production of Metamorphoses is an extraordinarily beautiful play. The aesthetic splendor of the show highlighted John Rindo’s superb direction of this talented cast.
The play will be performed Friday, March 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 3, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. in Norton Clapp Theatre.