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Twilight World: LA Weekly

Writer-director 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. 

—Steven Leigh Morris

 


Twilight World: Los Angeles Times

Deep Into 'Twilight'

The Ziggurat Theatre injects a rich psychological subtext into the Greek Procne-Tereus myth.

Archetypal resonances run deep in "Twilight World," the latest tapestry of mythologically themed theater, music and dance from Stephen Legawiec's Ziggurat Theatre.
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 Krawic).
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 hues.
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

 

 
Ziggurat Theatre Ensemble
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