Monday, March 26, 2012

A Visually Beautiful Performance

Oregon Shakespeare Festival
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Serpent spirits, meddling monks
In a beloved Chinese legend, a snake spirit disguised as a beautiful woman falls in love with a young scholar. White Snake keeps her true identity secret from him, but a disapproving monk persists in unmasking her. With the help of Green Snake, White Snake summons all her magic powers to defeat the spirits and monsters threatening her life and her great love. With live music and beautiful visual metaphors, Tony Award-winning director Mary Zimmerman invites your imagination to her staging of this fantastical transcendent romance.

As we left the theater I listened to the words of those walking near me and I heard, "That was sensational!" and "I'm surprised they got so much humor into the story."  They were talking about White Snake, a visually beautiful play based on the Chinese Fable, adapted and directed by Mary Zimmerman, now at the Bowmer Theater (February 18 - July 8).

We had no prior knowledge of the story and purposely did not read anything about the fable before we went to the play.  It was our intent to see if we could follow the story simply by being in the audience.  The story, which is very easy to follow, unfolds through a series of narrators who weave different versions of the love story between a young man and the spirit of White Snake.

The simplicity of the stage setting, the props and the fabulous snake puppets, along with the beautiful Chinese costumes make this play a visually stunning experience. 

The talent of the actors, especially the three main characters White Snake, Greenie and Xu Xian, took the audience on a magical ride. The final scene of the play held the audience in captive silence... literally, and then the stage went black and instantly the audience was on their feet offering a standing ovation.  White Snake held our attention and emotions from start to finish.  We were in awe, we laughed, we held our breath and the story touched our hearts. It is definitely a must see performance and I'm thankful for the experience. 

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