Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.


Also see Susan's reviews of Shakespeare's R&J and Glengarry Glen Ross

Doug Hara and Tempe Thomas
Fourteen years since its premiere in Chicago and 11 years after its Broadway run, Mary Zimmerman's visionary work Metamorphoses is as magical and fascinating as ever at Arena Stage in Washington. Zimmerman's staging of several myths from Ovid's Metamorphoses has always centered around a pool—water symbolizing a medium for rebirth and change—but, for the first time, Zimmerman has adapted her staging for an in-the-round facility, the Fichandler Stage. The presence of viewers on all four sides adds to the immediacy of the work.

Five of the 10 cast members have been involved with Metamorphoses since its original Chicago and Broadway productions, while another three recently performed their roles at the Lookingglass Theatre Company in Chicago. The entire cast works together in the seemingly effortless spirit that only comes from extensive rehearsal and comfort with the material and each other.

Zimmerman has selected Greek and Roman myths that examine the interplay between the gods and human beings. In some of them, men and women make decisions that anger the gods, never a good idea: that behavior can lead to a man destroying himself through ravenous hunger and a young woman driven to desire a man she must never have. Other couples show kindness to each other and the gods reward them: a woman reunited with her dead husband in a new physical form, a long-married couple granted their deepest wish.

Some of the stories are familiar—Midas and his desire to turn everything he touches into gold; the musician Orpheus, who travels into the underworld to rescue his dead bride Eurydice; the marriage of Eros, god of love, and the human Psyche—but Zimmerman's treatment brings out the psychological underpinnings within the narratives.

For all the stillness and seriousness of these tales, Zimmerman also has fun with the retelling, assisted by her design team. Costume designer Mara Blumenfeld outfits Iris, goddess of the rainbow, in a sheer, rainbow-tinted skirt trimmed with lights and the god Hermes in a leather jacket over his classical garments. The lighting design by T.J. Gerckens produces lightning and other effects through the use of an elaborate chandelier.

Arena Stage
February 8th - March 17th
Written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, based on a translation by David Slavitt of Ovid's Metamorphoses
Midas and others: Raymond Fox
Phaeton and others: Doug Hara
Hermes and others: Derek Hasenstab
Erysichthon and others: Chris Kipiniak
Alcyon and others: Louise Lamson
Myrrha and others: Ashleigh Lathrop
Eurydice and others: Lauren Orkus
Ceyx and others: Geoff Packard
Therapist and others: Lisa Tejero
Aphrodite and others: Tempe Thomas
Fichandler Stage, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Sixth and Maine avenues SW Washington, DC Ticket Information: 202-488-3300 or

Photo: Theresa Wood

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