Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

BRUSH UP AGAINST YOUR GREEK MYTHOLOGY

 

picture - The Judgment of Paris

Theater Review

by Cindy Pierre

published January 23, 2009

 

The Judgment of Paris

now playing Off Broadway at the Duo Theater

through February 1

 

Greek mythology has never been so provocative, wanton and borderline silly as in Austin McCormick's adaptation of The Judgment of Paris.  Drawing from five different texts that preface or center on Helen of Troy, McCormick's version turns Paris into a john shopping at a brothel full of prancing and dancing deities.  And that's only the beginning of this oversexed, burlesque meets the Rockettes romp into fantasy and history.

 

When Zeus chooses Paris, a Phrygian mortal played with an exaggerated endowment by Seth Numrich, to judge who is the “fairest one” and who should be the recipient of Eris's (goddess of discord) golden apple, a competition of erotic proportions ensues between Hera (Laura Careless), Athena (Yeva Glover) and Aphrodite (Gioia Marchese).  Cupid, the god of erotic love and beauty represented by lithe and statuesque dancer Davon Rainey, also puts his two cents in here and there on Paris's decision.  The goddesses each ply Paris with skills and gifts that they are known for, and are aided greatly by Olivera Gajic's fun, creative, and practical costumes.  Hera's crown and Athena's helmet may be enticing, but they're nothing compared to Aphrodite's Marilyn Monroe-like blonde wig and her gift of Helen (Elyssa Dole), the most coveted and beautiful woman, to him.  Too bad Aphrodite's bribe comes with mischief and an angry husband out for blood and satisfaction.

 

picture - The Judgment of ParisAlthough The Judgment of Paris is often frivolous, empty and monotonous, it's never boring.  There's  enough eyebrow-raising things going on to keep you invested.  McCormick's choreography is  versatile – intricate one moment, militant the next – even if some of the steps look foolish.  The talented dancers, particularly Careless in a beautiful ballet solo, handle the movements with precision and commitment. Although the stage for the battle scene is dim too long and the scene itself runs too long, it is the show's crown achievement in creativity.  Like a brothel, there are various ethnic, gender and body types in the cast for your visual enjoyment: there are athletic, thin, and most notably, a plus-sized goddess of love with a bad Russian accent that commands the stage like a Domme. 

 

If you go into the Duo Theater thinking that Paris and Helen's relationship is about love, you'll emerge from it with a different perspective.  From Aphrodite's breathy narration to the sexy lingerie, this Paris and Helen story is all carnal.  Even Helen, often put on a pedestal for her beauty and grace, is reduced to a lady of the night here.   And Helen is not the only one whose persona gets a makeover.  Despite the muscle-bound chestplate, Numrich is too handsome and soft looking to pull off Menelaus, the fearsome king of Sparta.  In spite of some foibles, The Judgment of Paris is almost a hypnotic presentation of their lust/love affair.  Almost.

 

cindypierre @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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