Friday, September 18, 2009

Play of the Week: Polaroid Stories

Naomi Iizuka's modern retelling of Ovid's Metamorphosis is a stunning journey through the underbelly of urban life. Set in the bad side of a nondescript city, Polaroid Stories takes us through the lives of several street children whose stories parallel the stories of the many different episodes of the Metamorphosis. Gods walk among the streets and magic is sometimes confused with drugs. Both mesmerizing beautiful, visceral, and lethal, this new version strips the story down to its essential.

The central theme of the play, much like the original poem, is about transformation. But in this sense the transformation is centered around creating a change, either in one's self, surroundings, or fortunes to attain happiness. It is a form of escapism. Everyone wants out of the ghetto whether it is through a change in stations, a better job opportunity in a distant city or a change in mental state induced by sex or drugs. Death is even a viable form of escape. Desperate measures are all these characters have left, so violence is often an answer to getting what they want.

Iizuka's writing is both poetic like the original and rough like that of the street. The final prose is something between a poem by e.e. cummings (whom Iizuka emulates by not using capital letters) and the lyrics of the most violent hip-hop album. The end result is a very affecting experience that will definitely relate to you on a instinctual level.

Happy Birthday: Harold Clurman (1901-1980), Agnes de Mille (1905-1993), & Anna Deavere Smith (b. 1950)
September 19: Jeremy Irons (1948)

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