World: LA Weekly
Stephen Legawiec molds a three-act, three-hour-plus epic-in-verse from
the ancient myth of King Tereus (source material also for Ovid’s
Metamorphoses and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus), employing Beckie
Kravetz’s evocative masks, Karene Lyngholm’s ritualistic
choreography and with scenes transitioned by Legawiec’s exquisitely
sung chorales (ranging in style from European Baroque-like fugues to
Middle Eastern riffs). And it all unfolds on a stage that’s merely
a painted circle. In Act 1, King T. of Thrace (Luis Zambrano) learns
from an oracle that his offspring are doomed to be offed by the heirs
of neighbor King Pandion (Michael Krawic). Tereus therefore mounts a
campaign against destiny — murdering Pandion, raping his only
daughter, Phila (Dana Weiluns), and cutting out her tongue. But it’s
not the danger that he sees that’s the danger. Ten years later
(Act 2), fate gets even. Act 3 is a kind of epilogue, set on a remote
island before a holy shrine, a land of refugees. Act 1 is very ancient
Greek indeed, with costumer Robert Velasquez’s togas, wraps and
clogs. Act 2, in glistening whites and golds, gets French courtly, with
deliberately anachronistic touches. The outcast women of Act 3 appear
cast out from some Victorian hospital, in blue nurse gowns. The actors
(in dramatic scenes and narrative recitations) create a kind of conjuring
— a shadow dance, mystical and hypnotic, as though pulled from
the subconscious — resulting in a cogent integrity. The exception
is a satyr play, thrown into Act 3 for comic relief — not unlike
the mechanicals’ performance in Midsummer. Placed well into the
third hour of an otherwise beautiful, somber meditation, it really does
test one’s patience. Still, that shouldn’t deter audiences
with a hunger for a theater of the sacred.
Twilight World: Los Angeles Times
Theatre injects a rich psychological subtext into the Greek Procne-Tereus
resonances run deep in "Twilight World," the latest tapestry
of mythologically themed theater, music and dance from Stephen Legawiec's
Through a trio of related but stylistically distinct hourlong plays,
writer-director-composer Legawiec weaves a lengthy but imaginatively
and beautifully staged epic, drawing from the Greek myth of Tereus and
his wife, Procne.
Tereus, you'll recall, was the Thracian king whose monstrous treatment
of Procne's sister begat one of those bloody revenge dramas that were
the Greeks' forte.
Though Legawiec's considerable liberties with the story might raise
eyebrows among Procne purists, he injects a rich psychological subtext
into these iconic figures.
In the first playlet, Tereus (Luis Zambrano) infiltrates a rival kingdom
to avenge the killing of his wife and child by King Pandion (Michael
Disguised as an astrologer, he meets and exploits Pandion's innocent
daughter Phila (Dana Wieluns) to gain access to his enemy. After the
murder, he ravages Phila and cuts out her tongue to cover the crime.
Though the characters are sketched in the boldly generic strokes of
classical Greek drama (complete with Chorus wearing forbidding masks),
elements of self-awareness in Tereus are reminiscent of the vacillating
Hamlet and "King Lear's" opportunistic Edmund.
Picking up the thread 10 years later, the second play opens with Tereus
a contented husband to Procne (Marianna Harris) and father to 10-year-old
Itys (Ivo and Derek Delgado share the role). In contrast to the somber
world of the first play, their idyllic life is painted in light, golden
Despite a livelier Chorus' warning that some doors should remain closed,
Procne examines a pictorial tapestry and learns the truth about her
husband's crime and that his victim is her long-lost sister. To punish
Tereus, she kills her own child.
The final chapter contains the plot's most radical departures, set another
decade later on a remote island where a wandering Procne has come to
seek an oracle's counsel. Cast in hues of meditative blue, this highly
introspective segment focuses on the tragedy's psychological consequences.
Using a Chorus mutated into a vaudevillian troupe to great comic effect,
Legawiec injects a ribald tale narrated by a witty Shakespearean-style
Player (Catherine Bell).
Where Ovid's version of Greek myth ended with the three principals being
transformed into birds, "Twilight World" offers a more humanistic
metamorphosis--a reconciliation of sorts between Procne and Tereus,
as well as a happy reunion between the long-lost sisters.
Not a classical resolution, but the play's cautionary message is uncompromised--that
evil can only be judged and forgiven by those who can see past the surface
into dark deeds.
PHILIP BRANDES, Special to The Times