I loved studying Ovid at school in Latin (a refreshing change from Caesar’s Gallic Wars Book V!), so this gender-bending production, mounted to coincide with this year’s Mardi Gras celebrations, had me clapping my hands with delight.
Through the gloom of the low lighting in this intimate theatrical space, the effect is arresting from the very first moments of the production, when bodies of different sizes and shapes in different stages of undress are draped over the scaffolding that forms the backdrop to a pool of milky water lying at the feet of the audience.
Acting as a Greek chorus, the cast of 10, under the direction of Dino Dimitriadis, take on or share the roles of various personages from Ovid’s magnum opus, which filled 15 books and incorporated 250 myths from the creation of the world to the crowning of Julius Caesar.
Writer Mary Zimmerman selects stories which reflect the universal human concerns of love, fidelity, death, transgression etc.
These are played out by the principals in the foreground as the other characters slide sinuously across, around and through the scaffolding to suggest a constantly changing and mutable world.
From its initial “role” as the swimming pool of King Midas, the pool becomes a fountain of tears, or the ocean which takes the life of the much-loved husband Ceyx from his wife Alcyone, or the River Styx in the Greek gods’ Underworld.
It’s amazing how much set designer Jonathan Hindmarsh achieves within the limited confines of this little theatre tucked away in a pub in a back street of Woolloomooloo.
The cast worked well as an ensemble, although a couple need elocution lessons, and David Helman was truly a moving work of art as danced his way up and down the pole of life.
Small independent theatre companies can often disappoint because of their lack of professional skills but Metamorphoses is definitely an exception.
Until Mar 10. Old Fitz Theatre, 129 Dowling St, Woolloomooloo. $33-$45+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.redlineproductions.com.au
Reviewed by Irina Dunn