Zeus in Therapy
Tutto Theatre's stage adaptation of Douglass Stott Parker's poetry is less a play than a cool presentation of poems
Reviewed by Elizabeth Cobbe, Fri., Aug. 23, 2013
Zeus in TherapyRollins Studio Theatre at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside, 474-5664
Through Aug. 25
Running time: 2 hr., 45 min.
It's helpful to think of Zeus in Therapy less as a play and more as a performance of something cool. It's an exploration of the character of a deity, via the poetry of Douglass Stott Parker as adapted for the stage. It has moments of gravity, but even so, the show is more of a cool presentation of some poems that are themselves thoughtfully random musings on a character.
Director Gary Jaffe and his cast have put some effort toward compressing the poetry into a stylistic arc as Zeus confesses his inner life to his therapist (Court Hoang). The character of Zeus, who is played by an ensemble of actors, draws plenty from Greek mythology. He's a womanizer; he overthrows the rule of his father Cronus; he oversees an unruly pantheon of other gods, most of whom are members of his disjointed nuclear family. More than once, Zeus returns to the story of how he fell for the mortal woman Semele (Annamarie Kasper), and when she bid him to show her what he's really like, he did – and his true identity incinerated her on the spot. The scene, which gets replayed, is beautifully staged and pretty much awesome for people (like me) who are junkies for things like artful tragedy, but there isn't a clear resolution to Zeus' lingering angst. It's more like, well, therapy. He keeps coming back and figuring out maybe a little more.
As a whole, it works. You just need to think of it as something besides a conventional play.
Tutto Theatre Company has assembled an excellent cast of performers for this show. They work beautifully as an ensemble, to the extent that highlighting any one actor's performance is almost a shame, because all of them have great moments. Some characters are especially engaging, of course, including Hera (Chris Humphrey), referred to as Zeus' "wifster" (wife + sister), and the treatment of Zeus' favorite snake Clyde (puppeteered by Mario Ramirez). With the show as long as it is, Zeus in Therapy wouldn't succeed without an ensemble as strong as this one.
Austin M. Rausch's costume, hair, and makeup designs support the performance work well, striking a careful note between generic-classical and versatile-palette, allowing the actors to explore many characters with broad ranges. Justin Cox's set design, together with the video from Kakii Keenan, Tracy Mullen, and Lee Webster, lend visual texture to the evening.
Turning poetry into theatre is no small challenge. Fortunately, Tutto has chosen intriguing, highly visual poetry and an adventurous cast who present a solid evening of engaging work.
Zeus in Therapy, Austin theatre, Tutto Theatre Company, Douglass Stott Parker, Gary Jaffe, Chris Humphrey, Annamarie Kasper, Court Hoang, Mario Ramirez, Austin M. Rausch, Justin Cox, Kakii Keenan, Tracy Mullen, Lee Webster