At Goodman Theatre's Owen Bruner Theatre
170 N. Dearborn
Created by Tony Hernandez
Written by Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman
Directed by Tony Hernandez and Heidi Stillman
Thru June 20th
Running Time: Eighty minutes with no intermission
By Katy Walsh
Ladies and gentlemen, step right up and be prepared to be amazed by death defying feats that will shock and intrigue you! Lookingglass Theatre and Silverguy Entertainment presents HEPHAESTUS: A Greek Mythology Circus Tale. A young girl narrates the Greek tragedy about a goddess rejecting her crippled son, Hephaestus, by hurling him from Mount Olympus. Hephaestus plummets into the sea. Rescued by sea nymphs, Hepha establishes himself as an artist welding metal into silver men. His success leads to love and forgiveness among the gods. The story is illustrated by wondrous circus acts. The spectacle starts with a man, four stories up, plunging into a small pool of water. It ends with a seven person pyramid walking a tightrope. In between, HEPHAESTUS is heart-racing, breath-holding, nerve-tingling, full throttle eye candy!
Tatiana Ranallo (narrator) plays the young girl escaping her quarreling parents by imagining her book into reality. Ranallo's storytelling has a sweet innocence that contrasts brilliantly with the severity of the industrial style of the set. Sea nymphs aerial dance using silk ribbons. The flashes of green and blue are whimsical. The aerobatics are graceful as various slipknots in the fabric are adjusted to suspend the performers by foot or hand. It's pure enchantment!
In a tightrope act, the gal not only does the splits but returns to the standing position. Mere mortals will be fascinated by the required precision necessary to cheat death. Fatality is a centimeter away! Either on the ground or in the air, the stunts are non-stop and riveting. Two brothers, Guiliano Espana Anastasini and Fabio Espana Anastasini, team up with the family Icarian act passed down from their father and uncle. Imagine yourself suspending a sibling on your legs playing airplane. It's that... times a bazillion as one brother kicks and tumbles the other brother into the air and catches him on his feet and sometimes foot.
Lookingglass ensemble member, Tony Hernandez has channeled his Ringling Bros. past to conceive HEPHAESTUS. Co-written and co-directed with fellow company member, Heidi Stillman, Hernandez also stars in HEPHAESTUS. The show has been mounted to sold-out crowds in 2005, 2008 and now. Throughout the show, silver men beat out the rhythmic movement with extensive percussion. HEPHAESTUS sounds like The Blue Man Group and looks like Cirque du Soleil. The audio-visual combo and venue make it unique. In the Goodman Theatre's Owen Bruner Theatre, the setting is much more intimate than a three ring circus. The tightrope stretches above AND INTO the audience. Cringing during the finale's pyramid, I was nervous for the lives of the performers and people in Row B, Seats 40-45 and Row C, Seats 50-55. I'm happy to report everyone survived and thrived from the experience!
Helping me with the pronunciation of this show by shortening it to "Hepha," Jen describes the show as, "funky, exhilarating, fun."
Hephaestus photographs courtesy of Sean Williams, Brian S. Bembridge and Tony Hernandez. No offense to the photographers, these pictures don't do the show justice. Must see it, to believe it!
WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Where do you go after you've seen the grim reaper flipped off? Petterino's, 150 N. Dearborn, is the perfect stop for a post death defying theatre drink. An unusually balmy April night has all the french doors open with a light breeze adding to the comfortable ambiance. My favorite bartender, Eddie, is pouring the wine! Jen orders asparagus that could be easily featured in a sideshow for its freakishly size. It's tasty! Sipping my wine reading Tony Hernandez's backstory, I am intrigued that even being a little hungover for work could kill Tony & company! I take another sip and decide not to quit my day job!