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Cappies: Clayton's 'Metamorphoses' excels

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 13, 2012 - “Wherever our love goes, there we find our soul,” asserts the thematically rich "Metamorphoses" by Mary Zimmerman. Clayton High School flawlessly brought the Myths of Ovid to life with exceptional acting, animated technical features, and, most notably, a pool of water.

Premiering in Chicago in the late 1990s and New York in 2001, “Metamorphoses” offers a modern perspective on a 2,000-year-old idea of love and transformations. The play follows a series of several mythological stories, beginning with Midas’ greed and golden touch that results in the temporary fatality of his gold-consumed daughter.

The plot then explores a number of Greek legends, including the stories of the loss of love of Alcyone and the ambitious Ceyx, the forbidden love of Pomona and the humorous Vertumnus, and the tragedy of Myrrha and her desire for her father. The piece concludes with the salvation of Midas and his daughter through purification by water. The Black Box Theater of Clayton High School provided a perfectly intimate setting for this intricate play.

The ensemble of 15 actors expertly shifted throughout varying roles, fulfilling each character with a unique and novel approach. Notably, Robbie Love shone in the gold-thirsty role of Midas, as he displayed the proper passion, grief and transformation. He worked well with Alessandra Silva playing Midas’ daughter, who maintained the innocence and form of the turned-to-gold victim. Silva later portrayed the idea of Hunger in human form, creeping across the stage and the water and clinging to her victim with merciless resolve.

Several actors also exemplified their skills through versatility and unique treatment of the diverse scenes. James Kerr portrayed both the ambitious sailor Ceyx and the amusing and enamored lover Vertumnus with appropriate drama and comedy allotted to each part. Also successful was Katie Warnusz-Steckl, who undertook the difficult role of Myrrha, a young girl struck with a longing for her father, with superiority and brilliance, despite the controversial material being presented.

Clayton accomplished true theatrical greatness with the technical work. The pool of water that actors miraculously entered and exited without notice was an extraordinary display of special effects, executed by Lucy Bowe. The water motif spilled into Max Treutelaar’s lighting design, which included captivating water-like illusions and gorgeous reflections off the pool. David Blake and Nicholas Parker’s sound design also complimented actors, as the music delightfully reflected the mood of the action.

Few faults were noticeable throughout the entire play. However, a lack of energy from minor characters at times distracted attention from the principal characters of a particular scene. Also, costuming seemed to slightly confuse, as it did not appear to adhere to one time period. However, a constant flow of action dominated these issues, and made them virtually imperceptible.

Clayton High School’s "Metamorphoses" proved to transcend expectations and bring to life a message that has survived thousands of years. "Metamorphoses" reminds us that change can be shameful; but it also reminds us that change can be noble, as long as it is compelled by love.

Nathan Hinds is a student at Holt High School. The Cappies program works with student writers who review student theatrical productions.

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