Review: 1 More APT Production, a Greek Drama

Review: 1 More APT Production, a Greek Drama
Marcus Truschinski and Melisa Pereyra, Alcestis 2014.

You might think that, given frost and even a snow flurry or two several days ago, American Players Theatre might be calling it a day.

But the classics-Shakespearean theater just opened its final production of the season, “Alcestis,” a Greek drama first produced in 438 B.C. and brought back to the stage in its current form by the late poet Ted Hughes in 1999.

APT stages it in its indoor Touchstone Theater, and the production will play through Nov. 9. It’s a remarkable play with remarkable acting, and it’s really worth your while to drive out to Spring Green one more time to experience it.

“Alcestis” is the work of Greek playwright Euripides, and it tells the story of an almost-tragic queen.

It’s a complicated story, but, here’s a quick summary: King Admetos, played by Marcus Truschinsky, has been sentenced to death for not paying proper tribute to the gods, but his buddy, Apollo, convinces the fates to spare the young kid’s life if someone will volunteer to die in his place.

(Melissa Pereyra) agrees to make the sacrifice, though she does make her somewhat feckless husband agree not to remarry and bring a stepmother into the home. He promises; she dies.

Admetos’ buddy, Heracles, shows up soon after, drunk as a skunk. Admetos doesn’t tell him about the little matter of his wife’s death, and Heracles proceeds to be an obnoxious buffoon – at least until he learns who Alcestis really is. Then he rushes off to Hades to bring her back from the dead. Which he does – but only after disguising her so that Admetos can be tested on his promise.

Does he come through? Well, one can’t give everything away, can one?

This is an interesting play. If you attend with three others, my guess is that you’ll end up with four points of view about the play’s central message.

You will also be impressed with the quality of the acting and the brilliance of the staging. A couple of performances stand out:

Colleen Madden’s is one — that can’t be much of a surprise. She plays both the role of a seemingly middle-aged church woman bringing a cake in a 1940s cake carrier to Alcestis’ funeral and the role of a vulture who comes to prick the liver of the body of Prometheus who is bound to a rock — we’re dealing with Greek mythology here, folks. Don’t expect it to make sense. In between, she becomes a very young chorus member.

Colleen Madden actually makes for quite a striking and terrifying bird.

The other actor who caught my attention was Christine Panfilio, who is completing her third season at APT. She plays the roles of a maid and of a servant. They’re not truly star roles, but Panfilio brings them to life. She’s always been a good actor, but she’s developing a depth of character which, should she decide to remain at APT, will elevate her to truly outstanding status before too many years.