Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
Also see Mary's review of The Beauty Queen of Leenane
The Greek myths of Ovid are retold with youthful exuberance in the Nevada Conservatory Theatre's colorful and energetic production of Mary Zimmerman's Metamorphoses. Each member of the swimwear-clad ensemble plays multiple roles, distinguishing the different characters with a few props and creative costume components. Staged on multiple levels, with a swimming pool as the centerpiece, the production starts slowly but finishes well, and is guaranteed to send you home with a smile on your face and a bounce in your step.
Thanks to Zimmerman's engaging storytelling and Michael Lugering's well-paced direction, you need not be well versed in mythology in order to follow the storylines. Zimmerman's retelling reveals the universality and contemporary relevance of the messages underlying each of these myths, and Lugering presents each tale with clarity. He makes good use of the Black Box Theatre's space, with characters entering and exiting from multiple directionsthe overhead catwalk, the side staircases, and even the swimming pool, which itself plays multiple roles, including a tempestuous sea and the River Styx. The action never flags, with the end of one story moving seamlessly into the beginning of the next. Even when a character is sleeping, there is action on the stage, as other characters languidly drop Z-shaped cut-outs into the pool.
While there is some variation in the skills of the performers, several display both versatility and stage presence. Jesse Bourque is excellent in several roles, most notably that of King Midas, whose quest to restore his daughter (whom he has accidentally turned to gold) forms the play's framing device. Equally impressive is Isabella Rooks, whose roles include the distraught Alcyone (wife of Ceyx) and a conniving nursemaid; she is also the most compelling of the play's several narrators. Delius Doherty is impressive as Zeus and Apollo, but especially shines as Erysichthon, whose punishment for thoughtless deforestation is insatiable hunger. Even the coin he gets for selling his mother (played by the capable Joshua Caleb Horton, who also plays Ceyx) can't buy enough food to fill his inner void, and when last seen his fork is poised over his own foot on a serving plate. Bobby Lang does his best work as Vertumnus, who dons multiple disguises in an effort to court an elusive wood nymph. In perhaps the best scene of all, Keach Siriani-Madden plays Phaeton (son of Apollo) as a neglected son with serious daddy issues that culminate in a disastrous episode of reckless driving; this poor little rich boy recounts the sorry tale to a therapist while drifting on a pool float in his reflective Ray-Bans.
The play also includes brief interludes of music and dance, but the choreography is minimal, and the absence of live musicians is disappointing.
The set design by Michele Anderson Beck easily accommodates the large cast and enables the action to proceed on multiple levels. Nice touches include the poolside beach balls, a cleverly disguised rope swing, and a colorful assortment of planetary orbs overhead.
Metamorphoses continues through March 5, 2017 (Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2 pm, and Saturday, February 25, at 2 pm) at the Black Box Theatre, Alta Ham Fine Arts Building, UNLV, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy., Las Vegas, 89154. For tickets ($27.50, $24.75 for seniors, students, and military) or further information, go to www.unlv.edu/nct or call (702) 895-ARTS (2787).