“Greetings from Styx” was about an hour long, starting at 4 PM, an odd time in the afternoon in the summer. Granted, it’s starting to get dark earlier again, as we head into fall, but it seemed oddly preemptive. That, or they didn’t want to compete with the timing of other, larger outdoor theatres like Greenstage and Seattle Shakespeare/Wooden O, who all start in the evening. I’m not sure.
The show, as any mythology nerd could guess, revolved around Greek myths, presumably set on the banks of the River Styx. However, the time period was updated a bit to the turn of the last century, almost into the 1920′s, so the setting felt both covered in cobwebs and like a day on Coney Island. The 4 myths presented were mostly comedic, although they ended darkly, and were performed with all the physical vitality of great vaudevillian performers. It was quite an enjoyable performance — the actors were focused and physically on point, although perhaps a little tired since it was the end of their run..
However, I have a similar criticism to this production as to Balagan’s earlier production of Oedipus — it’s not new. The script was new, as far as I know, but the stories were not original, obviously. The idea of setting something in the 1910′s/1920′s isn’t new, either; this is a fad that seems to be based on the popularity of steampunk. “Greetings from Styx” is yet another postmodern-in-the-extreme production from Balagan, which is entertaining and interesting, but doesn’t add anything new or vital to theatre — it’s just a pretty montage of someone else’s ideas. I don’t mean that every single production ever NEEDS to be 100% original or some sort of dramatic, seriously-created “art”, but I would say that Balagan’s focus isn’t on the art of theatre at all — it’s on the entertainment value, on pulling in audiences with pop culture fused with something supposedly intellectual (I’m frankly surprised they haven’t picked on Shakespeare yet this season, but I guess too many other companies are doing that, so they resort to Greek myths to look like they’re thinking originally).
So, although I enjoyed the performance and the actors, I was overall disappointed with the production. Writing a review of this as “theatre” is like trying to review cotton candy as gourmet food. It doesn’t work.