Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: Medusa's Early Days

Origin stories of well known characters are always rich in possibility. In Rachel Graf Evans' Ravishing Medusa, the pre snake haired, stone turning Medusa is explored, displaying a side of the woman we don't know.
Inspired by the Ovid version of the myth, Ravishing Medusa tells the tale of a beautiful young maiden who worships Athena. This causes envy to Athena’s father Zeus and uncle Poseidon. Poseidon’s jealously brings him down to confront Medusa and ultimately rape her. In Rachel Graf Evan’s retelling of the Medusa myth, we see this story through a feminist lens. The play boasts five woman to play the various roles through poetic dialogue and dance and movement. Where Ravishing Medusa succeeds is through Graf Evans’ words. The book scenes truly explained the history and story in a effective manner. With the exception of the piece between Medusa and Poseidon, the dances did very little to progress the story. The dancing fell flat as the ensemble did not gel well as a cohesive unit. Director and choreographer Blaze Ferrer did not play to the strengths of his team prompting some unnatural and amateurish movement. Had the overall piece not relied on so much movement, perhaps a stronger story would have been portrayed.
As Medusa, Marisa Brau gave the villainous woman dimensions. Her ingenuousness to the part played well into the complete arc. Alexis Kelley played well into the vivacious newfound seductress Athena. Kelley eased naturally into the world of the play. The standout of the piece was Samantha Bergman as Poseidon. Bergman took great command on stage transforming to the God of the Sea.
Director Blaze Ferrer’s strongest moments was during the storytelling through the book. While the movement pieces took away from the power of the story, the strength in the book scenes took center stage. Despite the dance pieces not working, the accompanying music throughout the play was quite lovely. Lighting designer Ebony Burton did wonders altering the stark space into a temple. Emily White’s costumes balanced nicely between period and modern.
Ravishing Medusa is an ambitious work that after going back to the drawing board can be something special. Playwright Rachel Graf Evans has devised an engaging play with much potential.