House Theatre’s final show of the season is based on Greek mythology, source material that the company has yet to embrace with the same confidence it brings to pop iconography. The story pivots around a pair of mortals left to fend for themselves after Pandora unwittingly delivers evil onto the world. Written by Ben Lobpries and directed by Tommy Rapley, the play begins as if emerging from a muddle of ideas, none of which clearly set out the narrative landscape. Things sort themselves out eventually, with gods and mortals staking their individual claims on the world, but style is emphasized over substance. Only Stacy Stoltz, as Athena, and Joey Steakley, as Hermes, quickly and effectively delineate their roles—especially Steakley, as a supremely bratty god and the show’s one comic relief. (The punk-inspired costumes from Debbie Baer and Christina Boucher include a black kilt and matte silver jean jacket for Hermes, and a hairstyle for Athena that brings to mind a spiky version of Sanjaya’s ponytail Mohawk.) Lobpries and Rapley have collaborated before, and their interests are highly physical and dance-like performances. They are still working out the kinks, but I admire their efforts. I wonder, though, if Greek mythology lends itself to such an approach; too often the physicality feels melodramatic and earnest. The show’s one thrilling moment happens early on, when the couple (played by Jamie Abelson and Erin Damron) is swept up into the churning waters of the River Styx. Sheets of black plastic rustle and jostle, swallowing and submerging the actors in an image that feels unique and unexpectedly beautiful. If there is going to be an emphasis on physicality, it should be more like this. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.