Ovid's METAMORPHOSES Crashes Into the Present at Sydney Fringe
Montague Basement is upping the ante this year at The Sydney Fringe, bursting through 15 Books of the finest Latin poetry known to man with pathos, irreverence, humour and energy.
Using the structure of Ovid's epic Roman poem Metamorphoses, the team that has previously tackled Greek myth and tragedy in Procne & Tereus and All About Medea at previous Fringe Festivals will bring their unique take to gender, politics and power in this new devised work.
"Ovid used the theme of "transformations" or "metamorphoses" as a loose thread to talk about whatever he wanted to talk about", explains producer and deviser, Imogen Gardam.
"Likewise, we're using the theme of Greek myths to explore things that we care about, such as gendered power imbalances and rape culture."
"There are a lot of instances of oppression and assault in Ovid that ring frighteningly true for audiences today, and these myths make great vehicles to subvert our understanding of society, both ancient and contemporary", says Gardam.
As performer and deviser Lulu Howes notes, it says a lot that Ovid can speak to contemporary issues so clearly.
"When you can reach back into the most ancient of texts and find threads that still seem relevant, it says a lot about the kinds of stories we like to tell," Howes explains. "Narratives might move, and evolve and transform, but we're still drawn to particular kinds of storytelling."
Adaptations of Greek tragedies have a special history in Sydney's recent theatre scene, making Metamorphoses a timely addition.
That said, it's not all doom and gloom, explains deviser and performer Saro Lusty-Cavallari: "This eclectic tome has become one of those fearsome 'cornerstones of western literature but it reads like a cross between a Monty Python episode and a 2:00am binge across the darkest corners of Wikipedia."
In making such a respected and mystified text accessible, there's a lot of fun to be had.
"In the spirit of Ovid we'll be retelling our favourite stories, cracking some very dumb jokes, testing the limits of our bodies, exploring the darkest corners of imagination and subtly ribbing our political leaders", Lusty-Cavallari notes.
"Ovid mixes the legend with the familiar and ends up nailing that strange blend of humour and darkness, tragedy and pure basic fun that sticks in the mind and keeps us returning to those narratives time and time again," Howes adds.
Howes has previously played iconic female mythic figures for the company, including Procne and Medea. In Metamorphoses, all bets are off."Saro and I have both been able to pick and choose who might play which character, with no expectation that if the character is a man it should be played by Saro or vice versa," Howes explains. "In general there's been a lot of freedom with how we tackle these characters, and way, way too many costume changes." Two people cheekily re-enacting every great myth they can get their hands on? We like to think it's what Ovid would have wanted and if it's not... we frankly don't care.
Metamorphoses will be performed at the Erskineville Town Hall from the 13-17 of September at 8:30pm, following on from Tammy & Kite.