I guess as experiences go watching actors play in water is far from the worst thing that could happen in a theater, though after watching Mary Zimmerman’s Metamorphoses for the second time in twenty years it’s also far from the best. But since water is endlessly enticing and you’re going anyway, let me at least pose a question or two for you to ponder as you drift off to sleep.
If you just read the script of Metamorphoses, would you have said to yourself—“Water, everything must be played in water”—? I think you would have probably thought that it was appropriate for the second of the six or so tales here, but that none of the others is especially watery. It is true that tumbling over in grief is more dramatic in a pool than on the hard ground, or having a temper tantrum and splashing the first three rows of the audience is marginally funnier than doing it on a dry stage, but as a go-to move it takes on a wearying, limited appeal. Just ask the birds: when everyone flies, it’s not that big a thrill.
And since we’re on the subject of the script, it feels like it was written by the youth minister of a progressive church in Marin—full of easy, ironic lessons; scores of opportunities for the type of peppy acting natural to privileged teens; and best of all, constant narration, so that no one in the congregation gets lost: “Wake up, Grandma, Dionysus is passing out the wine.”
I don’t think you’re seeing art; I think you’re looking at water. And there’s a big difference.Read More