By Olya Ryabets
Eternal Hydra now playing at Buddies In Bad Times, written by Anton Piatigorsky and directed by Chris Abraham, is a slow-paced, bookish experience, which is to be fully expected from a play whose main character is, essentially, a book.
A young scholar, Evelyn (Liisa Repo-Martell) discovers a lost 20th century masterpiece in Paris and we follow her trials as she discovers certain truths about the novel’s mysterious author (who, although long dead, is brought back to life by David Ferry). Evelyn runs into trouble with a publishing magnate (Sam Malkin) and a historical novelist (Karen Robinson).
The play weaves through different times, characters become other characters and literature and reality meld into one another. On one hand, this show requires a tremendous amount of patience – it’s two hours long and, believe me, it takes its’ time. On the other, it forces you to use your imagination.
It’s painstakingly slow at worst, but creatively engaging at best – before I knew it, I went from being bored to creating images and immersing myself in atmospheres constructed purely out of the actors’ storytelling. The positive notes of my experience were heightened by the clean, versatile set (John Thompson) and the lovely costumes (Barbara Rowe).
My friend seemed to enjoy it much more than I did. He commented that the show was solid production-wise – especially the visual aspect. Light changes, for instance, were helpful in distinguishing various story elements (such as fiction and reality, past and present). Much like myself, he noted that the play is very intellectual, its’ primary focus is language, rather than action, but that is not necessarily a weakness – just a matter of preference.
Watching the play also led to an interesting discussion afterward – namely the issues of authorship and the fact that a work of art is never a product of just one mind. Not least because art really lies in perception, and the audience is always implicated in its’ creation.
We both enjoyed the acting, especially Karen Robinson (for her energy and sense of timing) and David Ferry (who delighted us with his tasteful Irish accent), although questioned some of the choices made by Liisa Repo-Martell in finding variations in the characters she plays.
In short, if you are looking for an evening full of action, this might not be the play for you. However, it just might be the thing for you literary types (as I said – my friend, the English major, quite enjoyed the philosophical discourse the play brought up).
– Eternal Hydra is playing at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (12 Alexander St.) until May 31st.
– Shows run Tuesday to Saturday at 8PM with additional matinees on Sat & Sun at 2:30PM
– The ticket prices are:
Saturday Matinee – $15
Tuesday/Wednesday – $20
Thursday/Friday – $25
Saturday Evening – $30
Sunday – PWYC
For tickets, call (416) 975-8555 or visit the Buddies site for more info.
More about the company can be found here – www.crowstheatre.com
Photo of David Ferry by Colin O’Connor