Arena Stage’s ‘Metamorphoses’ dazzles viewers


Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Mary Zimmerman, Arena Stage’s production of Metamorphoses dazzles and spellbounds throughout its entirety. It is a show larger than life with ideas and themes that stretch one’s mind to question the beauty of life and relationships told by the stories of Ovid’s tales of gods.

Directed by Tony award winner Allison Arkell Stockman, within the first five minutes of the production the audience is glued to the stage as water becomes a paramount theme to telling the characters’ stories. The production quality truly transports one to a world that is not only dream-like, but from another era as well. The beauty of the use of water on stage is breathtaking and set designer A.J. Guban makes an incredible use of Arena Stage’s smaller stage.

To add to this magnificent show are the costumes, which were meticulously designed and crafted to transport audiences to that dream-like state of mind. Since the show is very metaphoric and takes twists and turns that don’t adhere to reality, the costumes were elaborate to match this dream-like world that Stockman so beautifully created.

King Midas (Keith E. Irby), a selfish man who acquires the golden touch (the key to life), is ecstatic about his newfound power until his daughter (Jade Wheeler) embraces him and turns into a statue. This perplexes Midas, for though this “golden touch” gives him power, there is a price to pay as he maneuvers through his godly world.

Both Irby and Wheeler steal the show with their incredible ability to remain focused and convincing, even when dealing with being drenched in water onstage. As various couples also return to the stage, such as Orpheus and Eurydice, whose story is told twice through two different characters’ viewpoints, the show maintains its magnetic energy and artistic vision, which is both original and spell bounding.

I have never seen a show quite like Metamorphoses. It takes audiences through an artistic vision that is not easily achieved, for it makes one think about the creative genius that is possible through theater and the stage. It is surely a show not worth missing, as it will leave you questioning not only the depths of the human soul and metaphoric need for power, but the ability to capture such a breathtaking story on an ordinary stage.