archive
links
essays

Metamorphoses

In this brilliant, incisive work, Mary Zimmerman does for Ovid and related stories what The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) promised but failed to do for de Vere: find a through line from an amazing body of work and leverage it to reveal universal truths.1

Michael Morgan as King Midas, with Ryan Wuestewald and Michelle Y. Hurtubise
Michael Morgan, Ryan Wuestewald,
and Michelle Y. Hurtubise
Photo: A&J Photography
Every age has its mythologies, though in their time, each believes it to be the definitive truth. Today, those who dominate the planet, extol their limited, left-brained, causal, time=money, pseudo-science as the gospel, while attempting to diminish right-brained, acausal, in-the-present consciousness as delusionary new age nonsense, thus rejecting an integrated (left- AND right-brained: Hello, Leonardo!) holistic, whole-brained vision of reality.

Zimmerman's selective ordering of choice Greek and Roman allegories, as well as Rilke's spin on Orpheus and Eurydice, plus a healthy dose of contemporary humor and mythology (what we call psychology), reveals the everlasting power and insights of these timeless classics.

Jada Roberts and Carmen Vreeman
Jada Roberts and Carmen Vreeman
Photo: A&J Photography
After the first scene, Cosmogony, in which the creation of the world is explained, Zimmerman follows with the story of King Midas, introducing the mortal thread by which we are reminded of what is truly important in this world. Along the way, the playwright illustrates a vision of the heroic journey of the human race by deftly selecting key myths to provide a compelling story and therapeutic map.

In the second scene, Midas, the initial focus is on the superficial aspects of Midas, a successful man who, when granted a wish by the god Bacchus, asks that everything he touches turn to gold. If ever there was a metaphor that rings true to our present culture—where the ascendancy of things (materialism and capitalism) over people has reached its unsupportable zenith—this is it.

Zachary Andrews and Jaimie Morgan
Zachary Andrews and Jaimie Morgan
Photo: A&J Photography
As Midas wanders the Earth, searching for an antidote to his hasty, ill-considered request, which resulted in his beloved daughter being turned into a "precious" metal, a series of ancient commentaries on the soul and its evolutionary journey are artfully presented. Director Geoff Kent once again finds an extra dimensional point-of-view—in this case, adding an additional story (as in second floor) to the set, as well as some Cirque du Soleil-inspired aerial razzle-dazzle—to beef up the Olympian attributes of the personae.

Then, of course, there is the pool. In exploring the psyche (which, Zimmerman reminds us, translates as soul), the playwright uses water (the unconscious) as the unifying element through which Midas (the ego) leads us on a journey of human consciousness that not only exposes our weaknesses—greed, vanity, lust, etc.—but our redeeming qualities as well—love and spirituality—until we arrive at the confluence of these themes in the final scene, which represents Midas' redemption as well as that of the human race. In other words, we must overcome our ego and instincts (materialism) and focus on love and relationships (spirituality), if we are to evolve.

Justin Walvoord
Justin Walvoord
Photo: A&J Photography
Of course the Greeks invented the word drama, thereby enabling mere mortals to portray immortal forces, and a fine ensemble of mortals it is: Michael Morgan, as Midas, moves seamlessly from King to schlep, reminding us of our own follies and missteps in our own quests; Carmen Vreeman as Myrrha, lays bare the roots of taboo as the obsessed daughter of King Cinyras; Justin Walvoord as Erysichthon, who, bereft of gods, flaunts hubris as if it were a commendable gift and winds up sending chills down our spine as he self destructs; Michelle Y. Hurtubise as Alcyone, whose palpable sense of dread toward her husband's sea journey, rekindles our respect for our own gut feelings; Zachary Andrews, is the very image of a Greek god, as the self-consumed King Ceyx, who ignores his wife's dreams and suffers dreadfully at the consequences, and as the archetypal lusty male of the species, Cinyras, who gets more than he bargained for; Jada Roberts, as the Woman by the Water and the Therapist, imbues a sense of ritual and an archetypal baseline into the proceedings; Ryan Wuestewald, as Orpheus and Phaeton, alternately bears the weight and makes light of fate, the results of which lie palpably on his shoulders; and Jaimie Morgan, wears the mantle of Aphrodite as if it were her birthright.

The Aurora Fox's production of Metamorphoses runs through September 22nd. For more information: 303-739-1970 or www.AuroraFox.org.

Bob Bows

Footnote: 1 One other outstanding compilation of excerpts and characters from a great body of work is The Glass Mendacity, which conflates a variety of Tennessee Williams' plots and characters. It was produced at the Denver Civic Theatre (now Su Teatro), by Industrial Arts Theatre Company in 1999.

 

Current Reviews | Home | Webmaster