Metamorphoses By Ovid
Adapted by Mary Zimmerman
Directed by John DiDonna
Valencia College Theater, Orlando FL</strong>
Pride. One of our greatest sins; and one that’s even tied itself to this script as the “Originally Produced” and “Premier” production crews are in the program. It’s a writer thing and even though those folks are nowhere near central Florida (and probably wouldn’t come here on a bet) they ought to be careful and this production shows why. Ovid collected stories of Gods and demigods; jotted them down, and somehow his manuscript survived to the 21st century. His tales are full of archetypes that we all know from the sacrilegious to the ultra-rich. For example: King Midas (John Moughan) is wealthy as Zuckerberg but he has aspirations to top Warren Buffet or maybe even Bill Gates. He’s nice to a smelly drunk and unknowingly finds the grace of the God Bacchus. Offered a magical reward, he foolishly asks for the Golden Touch but he fails to think things through and now he can’t hug his daughter or eat. Is there a cure for hubris of this magnitude or is he doomed to be a figure of speech for all time? We leave him to hang and proceed with more stories of romantic love and self-love and incest and pride. Like all good myths there is a moral; this often boils down to “do your civic duty” or “don’t get to big for your britches” or “don’t confuse love with lust.” Valid social criticisms never age.
“Metamorphosis” is often performed with water features on stage, and this production headed that way with a multi-level set lined in Neoprene. But rather than water falls there were water leaks and the acting was better than the plumbing. Colored lights did a reasonable job of adding moisture and the dry set took nothing away from the production’s impact. A cellist (Jean-Marie Glazer) added acoustic punctuation, his was no chamber music cello but a postmodern instrument plucked, bowed and taped into submission. The cellist also plays Narcissus; I’m sure there’s a dig in there somewhere but I thought he did a great job.
As the evening would down, we heard the story of Baucis and Philemon. They’re an old couple who are the only locals to offer hospitality to the Gods. The hospitality is repaid as was that of Midas, but this couple was wiser. Rather than seeking wealth, they sought simultaneous demise so neither would have to live without the other. Gods and genies may grant gifts, but they are devious and clever and one should only accept them with great care.
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