Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thoughts on “The Psyche Project”

Oh, my Gods!

Messing around with classical myths is always a load of fun, for the audience as well as the artists. The overall effect on the viewing experience becomes very intriguing: you get the irreverence of comedy with a touch of the epic. The Psyche Project has that in spades. I loved the anachronic revisionism of the shopping mall and Eros’s pistol. Wish there were more of those.

And my God those golden masks were scary. Eyes Wide Shut, anyone?

Anxiety and Doubt speaking for Psyche was a very versatile way of using those “sub-characters.” Entertaining and thought-provoking. Wish it had been used more, with the other personifications as well.

The shadow puppets were smart and funny, but kind of isolated. Why using a different technique just for one of Psyche’s three tasks?

But the “reeds” saying “we’re highly evolved” is a million-dollar line. I’m still laughing a little every time I think of it.

I’m not sure the beginning with the cell phones and the interruptions adds much to the whole play. It’s a level of metalinguistic awareness that didn’t match the rest. It drowned Jenny’s introduction to the subject, and by the time we see Scheibmeir making out with a girl in the back we’re wondering what’s intentional and what’s not, going over the whole thing in our heads, and I think that might be a little too distracting at the beginning of the play, when the audience is getting ready to be captivated and devote their full attention to what they’re about to see.

The sisters’ scene could be tightened. Since their role in the story is to prod Psyche in the direction of disaster, their overall effect would be smoother and clearer if they were simpler and more caricatural than the other characters, and appeared less.

Loved Persephone. Her moment of confrontation with Psyche, before she gives her the box of “200° Proof beauty,” is one of the dramatic peaks of the play. She is a great counterpoint to Psyche, at least as the play contextualizes her, and would add a lot if she appeared more. Being trapped in the underworld because of love, she’s the authoritative reference on its uglier side. If anyone should bitch about stretch marks and distant husbands, it should be her, not the sisters.

The only thing that disappointed me a little bit as a viewer was Zeus. His depiction (i.e., his words and the other characters’ reactions to him) was halfway between an almighty heavenly ruler and a god weakened by humanity’s lack of faith. It would have worked better if he had been pushed further into either side – either more imposing or more impotent.

One comment about the program: I’m not sure I’d agree that our world is “bereft of the essence of mythology.” Are we that rational?

PS: extra kudos to Mr. Orduña for his voice work – he was the only actor I could hear equally well from the front and from the back. How fitting that he should be cast as the wind.

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