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Volume 35
Issue 10
 
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Girls and Gods, or Prometheus Unwed disappoints - Good premise, poor execution
Girls and Gods, or Prometheus Unwed disappoints - Good premise, poor execution
by Jacob Clark - SGN Contributing Writer

Printer's Devil Theater is presenting Scot Auguston's new play at the Capitol Hill Arts Center. Some sections of the piece are lost beneath densely packed dialogue. It isn't helped by Carys Kresny's stylized direction, or the actors' overarching performances.

Girls and Gods, or Prometheus Unwed feels like a hastily written first draft of a play. An abundance of unfunny punch lines hang in the air like embarrassing little belches. Arcane language, meant to dazzle, merely fizzles.

It is disappointing, because the basic premise is fresh and full of possibilities. Zeus and Dionysus experience pregnancy as payback for all the mortals they have impregnated and discarded. The tables are turned on the gods after a mid-century archaeologist morphs into an alter ego in the spirit world. She is turned into a cow by the feckless gods, and raped. They wake up the next morning, not just impregnated but near full term, and find themselves to be residents of a home for wayward girls impregnated by deities.

Along the way, the play exposes an elderly Prometheus, a clever Poseidon/Neptune and an appropriately vivacious Aphrodite. So why does the play fall flat almost from the beginning, and why aren't these characters compelling?

First of all, Ms. Kresny has directed the actors to face the audience instead of one another when speaking their lines. This vaudevillian style works best in skits. It becomes tiring when used throughout a whole evening. It prevents the actors from engaging one another, and when the characters are unengaged, the spectators have no choice but to follow suit. Second, the actors have been directed to speak in the rhythm and over-enunciation of 1930's stage English, with one inexplicable exception, an Irish brogue. Third, most of the actors over-project as if they were playing to a large unmiked auditorium instead of the relatively intimate Capitol Hill Arts Center space.

Stacey Plum, as the archeologist, gives a general performance, when the role calls for more specific choices. She seems especially hemmed-in by the stylization. As Zeus, Allan Armstrong screams and yells his way through the play, although some of his lines could have generated a laugh had they been delivered, rather than shouted. "My head hasn't felt like this since Athena broke through," is an example. A few authentic characters are created, despite the performance style. Shannon Kipp's Aphrodite and Brandon Simmons' multiple characters all had good moments, but they couldn't carry the play. Despite a gratuitous masturbation scene in the second act, Stephen Hando's Dionysus is given a playful, upbeat treatment, and his Buster is a delight. Peggy Gannon humanizes the stylization of the piece and creates memorable portraits in multiple roles.

Jeffrey Cook has designed a workable set, with a swipe at Blue Door, the recent offering at The Seattle Rep. Macks Leger and Kristopher Whitman have designed wonderful costumes, particularly for Brandon Simmons who is required to make lightening-quick costume changes throughout the play.

With edits and revisions, Augustson's script could achieve its comic aims. The elements are all in place. If the playwright listens to his audiences during this maiden run, good things will be forthcoming for the text.

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