Inspired by Euripides’ Medea, The Goat Song by Kimberly Patterson was a good idea. Modern retellings of the classic Greek plays can be much more rewarding in these contemporary times than the originals, which adapt well into modern themes and stories. The Goat Song, however (containing neither a goat nor a song), is barely anything at all -- a jumbled mess of an experiment. But high up in a 12th-floor studio room, presented with the most modest production values, perhaps an experiment is exactly what it should be. The author, pulling from the classic text, utilizing modern language and introducing 20th-century history into the mix, is trying to get at something new while referencing the old and familiar. Unfortunately, this noble effort was unsuccessful. Megan Hutten as Medea was the strongest speaker of the cast, though her delivery of the character had the youth of a good high-school performance rather than the command of one of the great lady characters of classic drama. The rest of the cast -- a narrator named The Academic (Ingrid S. Nunez), Jason (Bryan Ponemon), and Zelda Fitzgerald (Sarah Doudna) -- all showed a criminal lack of projection for such a small space, swallowing their words to the detriment of Patterson’s script.
Limitations aside, the few props and set pieces were disparagingly thoughtless and executed without a single stroke of artistry. Likewise the costumes (uncredited) made an attempt in some cases, but barely touched on signifying character or period. A fringed skirt on the character of ‘20s icon Zelda Fitzgerald was supposed to signify “flapper,” but it actually reeked of a ‘60s go-go girl. Other characters were dressed in insignificantly chosen and unflattering garments. Only in the case of Jason, whose clothing is explicitly described in the text, was the costume made to order.
Jichetti staged the show simply, but without thought to the space. There was a seduction scene, acted with the least bit of passion, that took the actors to the floor out of sight of everyone but the first row. The narrator was stuck in the farthest corner behind a hindrance of a table filled with junky props, where she mumbled her exposition. Choreography credits went to Sarah Doudna for little crosses in the form of a Charleston and balletic turns for making exits. None of the staging helped the flow, defined relationships, or painted pictures that enhanced the text. The production was simply rudimentary.
There was a relief that came when The Academic announced that Medea must tackle that last scene only 40 minutes in. In less than an hour the experiment was over, and no one was too worse for wear. But a thoughtless production, lacking in most departments of theatre art, is inexcusable -- even under the poorest conditions. Other groups have achieved far more with similarly minimal resources, and the Lifeblood Theater Company is going to have to elevate their offerings to a higher level if they are going to live up to their name.
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Copyright 2005 Michael D. Jackson