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Globe tests waters with Metamorphoses

A duel review by Paul Bogdan (A&C Writer) and Caitlin Brezinski (Contributor)

New theatre season starts with a splash

The Globe Theatre began its 2010/2011 season on the main stage with the play Metamorphoses. A contemporary adaptation of the 2000-year-old poem of the same title by Ovid, the Globe Theatre’s adaptation of Metamorphoses is a modern reworking of the poem that makes the play much more accessible, enabling the audience to identify with the characters more easily.

Metamorphoses presents many of the individual myths in the world of Greek mythology, and jumps from one tale to the next in a rather parallel and unrelated fashion. Audience members must shift registers quickly from one myth to the next as the stories do not coincide with one another. There are many of the more famous myths – the tale of King Midas, or Eros and Psyche – and some that involve lesser-known characters in mythology, such as Pomona.

Although the individual myths are unrelated, they share common themes of transformation, decisions, and love. The stories are mainly love stories, but they aren’t all your conventional, happy-ending love stories. Incest and cross-dressing are integral parts of two of the myths that definitely keep the play more appealing than most typical love stories.

Another engaging aspect of Metamorphoses is the acting. The actors’ lines were delivered clear and audibly, and the characters well represented by the actors. The in-the-round style theatre gave the show a feeling of intimacy and involvement as the audience is closer to the actors than in the same size venue of a different styled stage.

Each story alternates between comedy and tragedy. The balance of melancholy and joy was done very well; Metamorphoses remained lighthearted while still retaining its principle themes and motifs.

The pool – the main aesthetic attraction to the play – was its most underwhelming aspect. The play takes place around it more so than it does in it, which is deceiving seeing as how all of the promotional photos are shots of people swimming underwater. It was originally advertised as being 2000 gallons, but was downsized to 500 – a mere puddle compared to the original design – due to structural constraints. Who knew that 2000 gallons of water weighs over 16,000 pounds? When standing upright, the water came up past the actors’ knees. The pool served its thematic purpose rather well, but it was quite disappointing to see it at a quarter of the originally intended size.

Even though the pool was downsized, one of the challenges of the play was dealing with being wet. With each actor playing multiple characters in the different myths and jumping into a pool in almost every one, soaked actors proved keeping new costumes dry a challenge. A generous donation of underwear by Thee Lingerie Shoppe kept each separate costume dry  and the changes of costume seamless.

The 2010/2011 Globe Theatre season is off to a successful start. Metamorphoses interesting combination of multiple stories, the symbolic use of water, and the modernization of Ovid’s narrative make for a production that’s worth checking out.

Metamorphoses began its run on Oct. 13, and the performances will continue until Oct. 31.

P. B.

Production ambitious, but tepid

I was expecting a lot from Metamorphoses. It claimed to be one of the most spectacular and ambitious performances to ever grace the Globe Theatre stage. Curious, I had to check it out for myself—especially since I heard it would take place in a 2000-gallon pool of water.

Not knowing what to expect, I was disappointed to learn that the pool only had 500 gallons of water – which really isn't that much – and most of the play happened around it, not in it. That being said, Metamorphoses itself was actually pretty daring – although it wasn’t quite the masterpiece I was hoping for.

The Globe’s performance of Metamorphoses is an interesting exploration of some of the myths of Ovid’s 2000-year-old poem, which presents the inevitable aspect of being changed or transformed by circumstances beyond our control. The play was more comedic than I expected. Some of it was genuinely funny, and at times I felt like laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

Now, I’m not a theater enthusiast, but some scenes almost felt like a mockery of the myths rather than homage. Some of the performances were way too over the top, and it was even kind of awkward to watch. However, the play had moments of pure poetic brilliance that were overshadowed by the more tragic myths that capture the intense backdrop of life.

Themes of loves lost or forgotten lie at the heart of these myths and Metamorphoses presents those in an intriguing way. Fueled by good intentions, the play attempts to comment on and dramatize the fact that we are all changed by our life’s circumstances. Many transformations take place within the play, either by love, hate, or greed. The sound and lighting effects were pretty cool and held an intense quality that aided in the production’s enthusiastic passion. It was interesting to see some gender differences in the characters. For example, a woman portrayed the character of Zeus.

The costumes were flashy, modern, but nothing too spectacular. If you’re going to see Metamorphoses, it would probably help to have some knowledge of the Greek myths. Otherwise, it’s easy to get a bit lost.

Overall, the production was an amusing take on Ovid’s poem. It didn’t fully hold my attention and I left it feeling pretty neutral about the whole thing. Although my expectations were high, and the play didn’t quite excite me as I’d hoped, Metamorphoses was a bold performance that had its moments.

C.B.

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