A gifted ensemble of 9 younger musicians and singers retells a collection of tales of feminine monsters from classical mythology in Monstress, a brand new experimental idea musical (and the corporate’s first musical) from Starvation & Thirst Theatre. Written by Emily Kitchens (e book and lyrics), with authentic music by Ben Quinn and music director Titus Tompkins, the songs are the highlights in a present that’s informed from the attitude of a band of rural nation associates within the Deep South, gathered for a night of storytelling.
Collectively “the cump’ny” (Rheanna Atendido, Olivia Billings, Jianzi Colón-Soto, Philip Estrera, Natalie Hegg, Jordan Kaplan, Allison Kelly, Adam Boggs McDonald, and Tompkins) reenacts a sequence of tales, portrays the traditional figures in several eras, and sings and dances in their very own anachronistic fashion and downhome accent for “y’all” (with Hegg serving as dialect guide), to help the predominantly bluegrass music, to underscore the cycles in “his story,” and to empower fierce ladies, historically seen as monstrous. However with out the help of a printed program to clarify the supposed message and to assist the viewers observe alongside (there’s one on-line, however in fact telephones have to be turned off throughout the present), the ostensible feminist intent isn’t at all times clear and the vanity, scenes, songs, and characters may be perplexing, particularly to these not versed in among the lesser-known Greek myths.
Directed by Hondo Weiss-Richmond, the segments reimagine the legends of Nyx (feminine personification of the evening), Echidna (the cave-dwelling half-woman, half-snake mom of many well-known monsters), the Sirens (three sea nymphs whose enchanting songs drew sailors to their deaths), the Graeae (three grey-haired previous ladies who shared one eye and one tooth amongst them), the Sphinx (a cruel creature with the top of a girl, the physique of a lion, and the wings of a chook, who kills and eats everybody unable to reply her riddle), and Medusa (one in all three winged Gorgons with residing snakes for hair, who turned anybody who checked out her to stone). We not solely see their most defining episodes, but in addition now hear their internal ideas and emotions within the present’s invented female-centric dialogue and track.
The creative design is usually makeshift and minimal, reflecting the format of a bunch of artistic bandmates having enjoyable and appearing out their modern takes on the tales. Jiaying Zhang’s set incorporates movable steps and a backdrop of painted tablecloths, sheets, pants, and jackets hanging on a clothesline, which the actors pull forwards and backwards, pin up and take down, for the totally different scenes. Costumes by Sera Bourgeau look equally modest and impromptu, with the characters donning materials, masks, and equipment on high of their on a regular basis garments (the snakeskin print on Echidna is very intelligent and suits her long-legged serpentine strikes). Yang Yu’s lighting is appropriately evocative (together with a blackout for the opening scene with Nyx) and choreography by Olivia Palacios is effectively suited to the full of life bluegrass rating.
Whereas the general script may use extra tightening and coherence, and a printed program would additional serve the viewers, the vocals, musicianship, and strikes of the solid impress and entertain.
Working Time: Roughly one hour and 40 minutes, with out intermission.
Monstress performs via Saturday, November 5, 2022, at Starvation & Thirst Theatre, acting at New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Road, NYC. For tickets (priced at $20, or $10 with a canned meals donation), go on-line. Everybody should present proof of COVID-19 vaccination and a photograph ID to enter the constructing and should put on a masks inside.