>>> Fringe Review: Persephone

PERSEPHONE by Felix Beauchamp, Augusto Bitter, Sarah Campbell,.

PERSEPHONE by Felix Beauchamp, Augusto Bitter, Sarah Campbell, Claren Grosz, Fiona Haque, Laura Hayes, Keshia Palm, Christopher Sawchyn and Sheree Spencer. Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse. July 4 at 6:15 pm, July 5 at 7:45 pm, July 7 at 12:15 pm, July 8 at 11 pm, July 9 at noon. Buy tickets. Rating: NNNN

A clearer set-up and structure could help this intriguing telling of the Persephone story, especially for those unfamiliar with the myth of the queen of the underworld. But even in its present episodic and nonlinear form, there’s lots to enjoy, including brilliant ensemble work, evocative physicality and some powerful language.

Sydney Herauf plays the eponymous character, who leaves her mother Demeter (Jacklyn Francis) to wed Hades (Christopher Sawchyn). You could call this her coming of age story down below. After all, she meets everyone from Orpheus and Eurydice to a circle of suicides, all while she and Hades are trying to get to know each other.

This collectively written work, by the cast and director Claren Grosz, contains some startling imagery, like a haunting trip on the River Styx and the simply done yet effective slithering of a snake.

Some of the direction is overly fussy – especially the tinkering with costumes. But Grosz gets excellent work from the cast. Sawchyn exudes a dark magnetism, while Francis is a concerned, sympathetic mother.

And the chorus, many of them students or recent grads, is so effective and individually characterful they should all be named: Felix Beauchamp, Augusto Bitter, Fiona Haque, Laura Katherine Hayes, Keshia Palm (who also designed the puppets) and Sheree Spencer (who also played violin).  

You’ll be hearing more from them.

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