“Metamorphoses” at The Warehouse Theatre

On this past Friday I got to go to the opening showing of “Metamorphoses” at The Warehouse Theatre.  It provided a wonderfully entertaining evening, and was an all around very enjoyable show.  Being the first show of The Warehouse Theatre’s 2011-2012 season it makes me feel very excited about the other performances in the month to come.

“Metamorphoses” is a stage adaptation of Ovid’s classic, created by Mary Zimmerman in 2002.  At The Warehouse Theatre it was directed by Shannon Robert.  As a story it is actually broken into a number of smaller individual stories of Greek myths about the Gods and Goddesses and the humans whose lives they impact.  While watching the performance there was an over arching sense of familiarity.  These are stories that we know.  I suspect that most people can sit and have a sense of knowledge when they hear names like Midas, Pandora, Orpheus, Narcissus evoked.  Yet seeing it all staged presents these stories in a new and exciting way.

And then there is the giant pool of water making up the central stage space.  I’ve seen a lot of theatre performances over the past several years, but I had never previously watched anything in which the actors spend the majority of their time in three feet of water.  With knowledge of the pool prior to seeing the performance I admit that I felt a bit skeptical, asking myself, “how the heck is this going to work?”  Now, having seen the show, I can say in all honestly, it works fantastically, though I find it hard to articulate exactly how.  Part of it is the way that the water reflects the lighting throughout the theatre.  Another part of it has to do with the constant motion of the water as the actors move through it, making it a dynamic and engaged set design.  The way the pool was set up provided a unique entrance means for the actors, allowing a feeling of characters materializing from the very waves.  Furthermore,  while the pool was not gigantic, it caused a bit of an illusory sense of vaster space in which the stories take place.

As far as the stories themselves go, they blended a wonderful degree of modernes with an overarching homage to the great oral tradition that originated these narratives.  There is a timeless quality to these stories, making them an important part of our overall shared history.  Watching the performance we can relate to how the ancient Greeks and Romans felt themselves while sitting in an amphitheatre  listening to the performers of antiquity.  At several moments throughout the night I thought to myself, “The ancients Greeks, transported through time to this performance, would accept this as well done and in the tradition of their own theatre.”

I will warn that there is little happiness in the stories preformed throughout “Metamorphoses.”  The characters are all fated by their own arrogance, ignorance, over curiosity, or self-doubt, and in the end many of them suffer greatly.  However, there is a general sense of hope, in that by being witness to the tragic falls of many of the characters, we, the audience, may leave the performance wiser and more able to avoid like pitfalls ourselves.  As such there is a very purposeful feel to the entire narrative. Walking out into the night after the show, one feels as if he has been taught some valuable lessons.

The acting and directing were flawless as far as I could tell.  Each actor and actress seemed to fully embrace each role that he or she played, bringing a tangible voice and motion to these timeless characters.  The use of costume and props was minimal but appropriate, done to distinguish characters and events, but never being a distraction to the story being told at the time.  Additionally, the overall minimalism of the set, relying so much more on the pool and the lighting, allowed for the audience to construct their own architectures as the stories unfolded.

“Metamorphoses” is a wonderful and ambitious opening show for The Warehouse Theatre’s 2011-2012 season.  It runs through September 10th and is well worth the ticket price.  Opening night was already sold out and I suspect that the other shows will follow suite, so if you want to get a chance to see it get your tickets fast.  I feel that Paul Savas, the Executive Director, of The Warehouse Theatre, deserves a lot of praise for choosing to put on such a fascinating and engaging production.  If this first show is any indication the rest of this season should be superb.

I’ll keep you all posted on what else comes on through that way.

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~ by Nathaniel on August 29, 2011.

3 Responses to ““Metamorphoses” at The Warehouse Theatre”

  1. Just read this – didn’t get a chance to see it before. I am thrilled that you are writing about the productions at WHT – it is always so nice to get an outside perspective with a fresh set of eyes. Thank you!

    • Thanks a bunch. It has been a real fun experience so far. Having partook in theatre performances in the past, but not for many years now, it is a lot of fun to get back to seeing shows. I like the blog format for writing up some of my thoughts becuase it can be kept pretty casual, while at the same time allowing me to articulate some of my thoughts and feelings about a recently watched show. I intend to write a post after every show I see this season and into the future. Hopefully I will keep up with thoughtful things to write.

  2. […] Metamorphoses […]

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