Emily White ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The Liars and Believers have done it again. Icarus, now playing through May 17 at the Oberon Theatre in Harvard Square, brings the wonders of Greek mythology, innovative puppetry, live music, and, of course, a flying machine, to the Boston theatre scene. Using their innovative collaborative style, Liars and Believers’ Icarus becomes both an entertaining spectacle and an allegory for our present day struggles.
Icarus reimagines the Greek myth of Daedalus and Icarus in the context of a freak show in the Dust Bowl, during America’s Great Depression. In the original myth, Daedalus, an inventor, is trapped with his son, Icarus, in a prison guarded by the Minotaur in Crete. Daedalus builds wings out of wax to allow his son to escape, but warns him not to fly too close to the sun lest the wings melt and Icarus fall.
In this version, Daedalus and Icarus are prisoners of their financial difficulties, stuck working for the monstrous Minnie Minosoczeck at the freak show. Icarus falls in love with Penny, Minnie’s daughter, and longs to break free and “fly away” from their desperate situation. The dilemma of “eat or be eaten” becomes a running theme throughout the show as these desperate characters struggle to make moral choices while struggling to survive, two desires which don’t always align. The real magic of this show, however, is the way the story is told.
Artistic Director Jason Slavick describes the show as “music-theatre.” Original, Americana “indie porch music,” written by Nathan Leigh and played live throughout the show by the band, Store Bought Absinthe, underscores the entire production. The music is almost a character in itself, sculpting the desperate, desolate environment of the Dust Bowl and the characters that inhabit it.
The creative use of puppetry, courtesy of the skills of puppeteer and image-based theatre artist Faye Dupras, adds another layer of magic and wonder. The puppetry in the show ranges from the manipulation of everyday objects like a hat to the fully constructed “automatons” of Daedalus’s collection. All the puppets are manipulated by the actors onstage and add to the dreamlike and mystifying atmosphere of the play. The actors each take charge of the material in their own unique ways, combining their collection of skills to construct the Menagerie of Marvels.
Emerson grad Aimee Rose Ranger takes a firm hold of this atmosphere and manipulates it in a beautiful and terrifying manner, controlling the stage as monstrous show-runner Minnie. Liz Tancredi as Penny dazzles with a dancer’s ease, making the flying machine truly take flight. Lukas Papenfusscline makes hearts swoon as the lovelorn Icarus, toting around a guitar while singing lovely ballads. Jonathan Horvath as Daedalus struggles with his love of creation and his desire to provide for his son, taking on the role of the artist who creates destructive material. Veronica Barron takes on perhaps the most demanding role of all, literally titled “The rest of the world,” taking on multiple diverse roles including “Turbo Frog Boy” and a drunk man on the street. The most mesmerizing aspect of this performance, however, is the way all of these actors combine their skills to create the Menagerie within the confines of the Oberon space.
This is one freak show you don’t want to miss – so step right up and use the code: STUD to get a student discount!