BOTTOM LINE: Silly, Different & Campy
Haberdasher Theatre Company does not take itself too seriously. Their most recent camped up production of The Cyclops would almost work for children's theater. The exaggerated characterizations exhibited by every actor make the text accessible to the average audience member. The set by Keri Taylor looks like cut-outs from a children's story and encourages the audience to view the play from a child's perspective.
The cross-gender casting by director Neill Robertson is refreshing! Actress Mary Elizabeth Fields stands out as the hilarious and extremely nerdy Odysseus. Hollie Klem's physicality and facial expressions as Silenius are very impressive while the Satyrs, played by Sara Gaddis, Christen Madrazo, and Kerry-Jo Rizzo, are a very strong ensemble.
I had mixed feelings about the cyclops (played by Nicholas Panagakos) being played as a queeny, gay man. Panagakos' attitude, complete with stunning make-up, snapping, and insanely high platforms, keeps us highly entertained. However, I never sensed true fear of this character, which I feel the play needs in order for the text to be served.
Overall, Neill Robertson's costumes and make-up design is fabulous. I applaud Robertson for his bold choices in casting and for daring to make classical theater fun for a modern audience.
(The Cyclops plays October 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, and 25, 2008 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $20.
Call 212-252-2322 for more information or go to www.haberdashertheatre.com.)