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Open: 10/03/10- Close: 10/23/10 The Mask Of Medusa
Reviewed for By: Andi Stover

With her writhing serpent mane, Medusa has captured the imagination of artists and poets for centuries with her monstrous beauty and supernatural potency. Simultaneously a symbol of horror and feminine mystery, her image has been used to instill fear and her laugh to inspire greatness.  At the hands of playwright Joseph Samuel Wright, she has been re-made again into an adolescent victim in The Mask of the Medusa. Here the Gorgon appears as a sixteen-year-old babysitting teenager, carelessly used, abused and discarded by rapacious adults around her. Directed with clarity by Lauren Rayner, the production takes place in Central Park in front of a small pond where red banners hang decoratively from trees that enhance the vista without hindering it. The natural beauty of the setting evokes not only the Greek tradition the play borrows from, but the ideal of innocence and youth reflected by its main character, played with zeal by Ali Kresch. The performance switches between moments of stylized physicality and realistic snatches of dialogue to tell a sad, if simplistic, story of a young girl whose innocence is shattered when bad things are done to her.  By placing his main character in a contemporary context, Wright diminishes Medusa's mythic size to a proportion that is relatable to a contemporary audience, but some of her symbolic power is lost in the reduction. Wright makes the clear and powerful statement that a sweet, young person can be made into a monster. Actress Ali Kresch conveys the transformation compellingly through body as a smartly directed ensemble swirls about her, creating the change.  The chilling effect is dampened, however, when a member of the ensemble explains what we have just seen. At the moment when Medusa stands before us, adorning the mask poised to decimate all in the path of her gaze, the performance ends abruptly, leaving this audience wanting to see Medusa do some damage of her own.

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