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Changing Tides
a Drama
by Kathryn May

COMPANY : The Magari Theatre Company [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Red Clay Theatre
ID# 5053

SHOWING : March 30, 2017 - April 06, 2017



A new god has entered the Roman Empire that the mortals have taken a liking to, which causes the Roman pantheon to begin to question the loyalty of their worshipers.
This new god goes by the name of Jesus. "Changing Tides" is set on top of Mount Olympus where Jupiter summons a meeting with his fellow gods to discuss who this Jesus is.

As the meeting progresses, they discover that they might be too late to regain the loyalty of the mortals. The meeting then turns from "Who is this new god?" to "How do we save ourselves?" The tides are changing and it does not look like it’s in favor of the Pantheon.

Jupiter Marcus Hopkins-Turner
Dancer 2 Imani Joseph
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Get There Early
by playgoer
Saturday, April 8, 2017
The best part of "Changing Tides" occurs before the play begins. Cast members, who all portray Roman gods, are arranged in poses on museum-like pedestals in the lobby, in front of the stage, and outside the entry doors to the theatre. With the colorful costumes and metallic makeup on the actors, it makes for a stunning display. But they are led off their perches ten minutes before curtain. And then the play begins.

The plot, such as it is, starts with Jupiter looking into a basin on Mount Olympus and seeing the world below in the reign of Emperor Constantine, after Constantine has converted the Roman Empire to Christianity. The Roman gods feel their power weakening as sacrifices are no longer made to them. One by one, they deliver monologues discoursing on how Jesus has surpassed them in their realms, then leave the stage. Two self-choreographed dancers (Omari Joseph and Imani Joseph) remove the character’s corresponding chair and faux marble column from their position onstage to musical underscoring.

The impetus for the play stems from director/playwright Kathryn May’s fascination with Greek and Roman mythology that factored into several school projects through the years, culminating in a college production of a previous version of the play for her combined history/theatre majors. The play clearly shows its origins, coming across primarily as a lesson on the Roman gods and the points made in a high school essay comparing those gods to Jesus. There are some confrontations among the gods, but the tone overall is elegiac rather than dramatic.

The middle school-like atmosphere is underlined by the pronunciation of the goddess Ceres’ name as one syllable ("Sears") instead of two. That’s the sort of pronunciation error made by a student whose knowledge comes strictly from books. That the actors themselves didn’t catch this is bad enough, but that the playwright/director didn’t is unforgivable. At least the pronunciation is consistent. But consistently wrong doesn’t equal right.

Ms. May has blocked the show to provide fairly good sightlines, although twelve columns and chairs onstage can sometimes cause seated upstage actors to be obscured to some parts of the audience. All actors rise when giving speeches of significant length, so nothing crucial is missed.

The actors all do creditable jobs, with the men generally more impressive than the women. Jessica Wise (Juno), Ashley Powers (Minerva), and Halley Tiefert (Diana) don’t make much of an impression. Malikah McHerrin-Cobb comes across as weak in a Marilyn Monroe-sort of way initially, but ends her performance with a heartfelt monologue that rings perfectly true. April Singley (Ceres) is strong throughout when speaking, but doesn’t always react facially to the action around her.

Marcus Hopkins-Turner (Jupiter) has the looks and bearing for his role, but tends to be slow and ponderous in giving his lines. Kyle Porter (Mercury) is the opposite, zipping through his lines and providing the small amount of humor and drive present in the performances. Benedetto Robinson (Pluto), Bradlee Kyle (Neptune), and John Grove (Mars) all create strong, consistent characters. Joseph Alexander (Apollo) is perfectly cast, with his handsome aquiline profile, and Cohen Bickley (Vulcan) invests his character with an empathetic depth.

Corey Giessen’s lighting design is fine, with nice hints of illumination inside the central bowl. Chales Bedell’s sound design is similarly subtle and unobtrusive. The simple set consists of a mottled gray backdrop and the aforementioned columns and chairs, which are of various styles. All would make for an above-average church pageant. As a theatre piece, it doesn’t hold sufficient interest. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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