“Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman is a powerful compilation of stories about love, but make no mistake, these stories are not to be confused with love stories.
The show is adapted from the original “Metamorphoses,” a mythological narrative written by the Roman poet Ovid in the early part of the first century. The adaption incorporates contemporary dialogue and ideas into the classical narration of the original Ovid myths of King Midas, Alcyone and Ceyx, Erysichthon, Orpheus and Eurydice, Narcissus, Pomona and Vertumnus, Phaeton, Eros and Psyche and Baucis and Philemon.
Each tale speaks to a different flaw in humanity such as greed, doubt, lust, fear or insecurity. Through the haunting voices of the narrators, darkened lighting and the tragic stories themselves, the show reveals the unseen dangers in giving in to the human nature and the crippling effect it has on love.
Two large pools of water, sunken just out of sight of much of the audience, formed the majority of the set. Backing the larger pool was a double door frame and overhang painted to resemble stone reminiscent of ancient times. Stone stairs spanning the length of the pool led down to the second pool on the floor of the stage.
The only additions to the set through the various scenes were the silky curtains that occasionally flowed down from the ceiling. The result was a dreamlike, fluid set that was able to effortlessly transform from one scene to the next.
The pools of water added a unique dimension to the show. Water was backdrop, prop and costume all at once. The stage and actors became visibly drenched, elevating the intensity of the performance. Actors exited the stage by disappearing into the pools, or emerged suddenly into the scene already dripping from a mysterious murky source under their feet.
With the same mobility, actors also morphed from one character to the next as they portrayed multiple roles throughout the show. Minimal costume changes and props aided characterization, but the actors’ own transformations did the rest.
The 11-member cast included Caitlyn Weaver, Michael Joiner, Nyazia Martin, Ara Vito, Nathan Alongi, Aevar Jonsson, Craig Fairbanks, Johnna McCarthy, Morgan Conder, Rebekah Lecocq and Austin Williams.
The transforming ensemble and consistency of the set conveyed Ovid’s powerful warning: the pitfalls of love and human nature are eternal.
Directed by Brent Maddox, assistant professor of theatre at Belmont University, Belmont’s production of “Metamorphoses” opened in the Troutt Theatre Friday, Sept. 26.
The production will run through this weekend with performances on Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This article was written by Krista Walsh.
PHOTOS: Courtesy of Belmont University Theatre Department and the Troutt Theater