Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Beauty and the Beast
Also see Susan's recent reviews of Clyde's, Selling Kabul, King Lear and Into the Woods
As with most of Synetic's performances, most of the performers do not speak, conveying the story through astonishing physical feats with elements of mime and acrobatics, enhanced with surreal shadow images behind a large screen. A narrator, Emmeranne (Rachael Small), sets up the story–how she turned the handsome prince she loved into the hideous Beast as revenge for his family's destruction of their love–and remains an insinuating presence throughout.
Tsikurishvili has lost none of his ability to dominate the stage. Costumed in armor of fur and leather, he manages to defy gravity at times while also flinging himself from raised platforms.
As Belle, Irina Kavsadze, also from the original production, holds her own against such an overpowering character. She is sensitive without being cloying, kindhearted and never maudlin, and demonstrates a deep courage based in empathy as she realizes that the Beast is not what he seems to be.
The ensemble slides easily among roles, as Belle's spoiled sisters (Nutsa Tediashvili and Irene Hamilton) at times become part of the corps of human statues serving the Beast in his castle. Original costume designer Kendra Rai, and Delaney Theisz who costumed this production, depict the servants in skin-tight suits the color of dusty granite. Other eye-catching outfits are Small's tattered black dress and large shawl (Emmeranne can transform herself into a crow); the vivid red shirt worn by Avenant (Jacob Thompson), who futilely pursues Belle and ignores her two sisters; and the costuming in a scene when the ensemble members turn into a pack of wolves.
Beauty and the Beast runs through April 2, 2023, at Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington VA. For tickets and information, please call 866-811-4111 or visit www.synetictheater.org.
Co-Directed by Ben Cunis and Vato Tsikurishvili