Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Crown of Shadows: the wake of odysseus
Although several years have passed after the end of the war, Odysseus, the king of Ithaca, has not returned home; most of his subjects believe he is dead, but his wife Penelope (Deborah Hazlett) steadfastly believes that he will return. Since the ruling council insists on a male ruler and won't consider Penelope her husband's successor, she attempts to balance the demands of many power-hungry suitors (all played amusingly by Jefferson A. Russell). Her son Telemachus (Michael Morrow Hammack) is going through adolescence, wanting to assume his father's role but uncertain of his abilities. His difficult relationship with Calliope (Julia Proctor), daughter of one of Odysseus' advisors, does not help matters.
Director Blake Robison is unable to keep the competing threads of the plot in some kind of balance. Is this a coming-of-age story, a political thriller (what happened to Calliope's mother, who disappeared when the girl was a small child?), a tale of the dirty secrets of the rich and powerful, or a bloody revenge tale? The playwright's only apparent point of view is that no one is guiltless; each of the characters is sometimes dark and violentnot to mention manipulative in ways that suggest The Manchurian Candidate.
Hammack ably embodies Telemachus' self-absorption and contemptnot to mention his unlikabilitywhile Hazlett camouflages her character's ruthlessness with an innate elegance and Bill Clarke's sleek costumes.
Misha Kachman's scenic design suggests both the ruins of antiquity and more modern decay, with a rather obviously symbolic pool of water in the center.
Round House Theatre