Saturday night I saw Whistler in the Dark's production of Tales from Ovid.
I love Greek myths.
I love Ted Hughes.
I love watching people fly.
I was happy to support the show and definitely curious to see how the tiny little Factory accommodated flyers and silks. But, going into it, I was also concerned - neither the original nor Hughes' translation was written as a play, and the space could easily have been overwhelmed by tricks or choreography, and the myths and melodramas could easily have been over directed, over acted or both. But to my amazement and delight NONE of those things happened. With that said, I wouldn't say I saw a play or acting or anything I normally would critique a show on. But it was beautiful. And it was brave. And I can't really ask for much more than that.
The ensemble, directed by Meg Taintor, had an ease and understadedness that was fascinating to watch. They dedicated this piece to classic story telling, illustrating the themes and emotions connected in each myth with effective and deliberate choreography, sounds, and physicality. They targeted the audiences senses instead of their intellectl. That is a feat in and of itself. To disengage an audience from their brain and have them engaged enough just to feel what is happening. Each member of the ensemble had an energy all their own and they played together like the essential elements. Sometimes meshing, sometimes fighting against each other, but always ending in a neutral and cohesive state. They truly worked to present these tales in their most basic and relatable form. These are ancient stories that have been passed on and transformed and retold in every way imaginable. And so I applaud Meg and her cast for having adapted and put together a show that celebrates the art of a good story and the beauty of a simple and engaging storyteller.
And for taking risks.
This is the kind of performing that makes people take notice of what is happening in the tiny spaces on the tiny budgets with people who just want to create. It is a challenge. It challenges the audience to open their minds to a non-traditional theatre experience, it challenges the involved artists in physical, mental, and emotional ways, and I think it also challenges our larger companies to produce more honest and engaging work.
So take the challenge, because with these Tales you have nothing to lose.