Curtain Calls: Berkeley Rep’s ‘Metamorphoses’ mesmerizing

Two very different but equally captivating shows can be seen within a few hundred yards of each other as the Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Aurora Theatre present thought-provoking works, both without ntermissions.

Mary Zimmerman’s mesmerizing Tony Award-winning adaptation of Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” not only reminds us of the timelessness of Ovid’s stories but also enriches us with its creative splendor. Stunningly designed by Daniel Ostling with exquisite lighting by T.J. Gerckens, the production features a large pool of water where much of the action takes place. The “gods” appear on a catwalk above the action and a pseudo-classic doorway hints of worlds beyond.

The production explores the gorgeous, destructive and transformative nature of water as the various myths of passion, betrayal and hope unfold. The story of Midas and his love of gold frames the action beginning with King Midas (Raymond Fox) asking the gods to make everything he touches turn to gold (unfortunately his daughter decides to jump into his arms at this point) and ending with him reversing the spell and returning his daughter (Sango Tajima) back to a little girl.

In between, the myths of Orpheus and Eurydice, Narcissus, Eros and Psyche and many more float to the surface in the magical hands of writer/director Zimmerman and her astonishing cast (Steven Epp, Raymond Fox, Rodney Gardiner, Benjamin Ismail, Louise Lamson, Felicity Jones Latta, Alex Moggridge, Sango Tajima, Lisa Tejero and Suzy Weller).

While a fascinating spectacle to watch (except maybe for those seated in the front row!), the use of so much water poses many challenges to the cast and crew. Lights have to be protected, non-skid surfaces created, heaters and dehumidifiers employed and costumes designed to withstand long periods in the water. Actors not only have lines, characters and blocking to learn, but they must also find ways to keep their skin hydrated and hair healthy.

Producing “Metamorphoses” presents a monumental challenge for theater companies, but one that Berkeley Rep (which also produced the show 19 years ago) easily navigates. Obviously, audiences must agree, as the production has been extended for two weeks. You now have the opportunity to see this unique show through March 24 in Berkeley Rep’s intimate 400-seat theater at 2025 Addison St. in Berkeley. Call 510-647-2949 or go to for tickets or more details.

Also at Berkeley Rep is “Paradise Square: A New Musical,” which has been extended through Feb. 24. Set in 1863

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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