Mary Zimmerman, one of the most creative and ambitious directors working in theater today, revisits the work that brought her to national prominence. Ms. Zimmerman's adaptation of several of the mythological tales of Ovid's Metamorphoses, famously staged in a pool of water,is a mesmerizing journey using ancient myths to examine love, loss and redemption.
Ms. Zimmerman faced a challenge adapting this work to the confines of the Fichandler theater. Collaborating with her original designers, this production fits well in the space. For the first time, Metamorphoses is staged in the round. This has the advantage of giving a multi-dimensional feel to the work, but has the disadvantage that some moments will necessarily be hidden at times from the entire audience's view. The pool for this production is the largest one ever constructed and wisely Arena Stage has provided the first two rows of seats with towels. Sitting in the splash zone you will get wet. The only jarring aspect to the staging is the need to periodically sop up the water that collects on the edge of the pool. The first time it is swept up, you think, how clever. The second time it feels not as creative, almost intrusive, however necessary for the safety of the actors.
Despite that minor complaint, Metamorphoses will immerse you into the stories written down by the Roman poet Ovid so many centuries ago. The entire ensemble, many of whom have performed Metamorphoses in previous productions. It is difficult to single out performances when the ensemble is so united. Ashleigh Lathrop easily portrays the innocence of King Midas' daughter and the depravity of the cursed Myrrha. Doug Hara is hilarious as Apollo's bitter son, Phaeton and hauntingly poignant in the wordless part of the injured Eros. They, and the rest of the ensemble, portray so many varied roles, yet make each one a vibrant individual part of the whole theatrical experience.
For a creative evening of theater that will leave you wanting to explore the rest of Ovid's massive epic compilation go to the Fichandler theater, be prepare to get wet, and immerse yourself in the storytelling gifts of director Mary Zimmerman and the cast of Metamorphoses.
Metamorphoses presented by Arena Stage in association with Lookingglass Theatre Company is being performed on the Fichandler Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater through March 17, 2013. For tickets and other performance information please visit www.arenastage.org.