DC: Fringe: Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh, Who Saw the Deep
written and directed by Ryan Whinnem and cast
1835 14th Street NW
Thursday, July 24th, 10:00pm
Saturday, July 26th, 7:00pm
Description: Legends rise, gods die, and the face of the world is remade in this fresh retelling of man’s oldest recorded story. Follow Gilgamesh, the world’s first hero, as he journeys across the world and the next to discover the secrets of life, death, and what it means to be human.
It would not surprise me if the members of this troupe (all students at Catholic University) were fans of Mary Zimmerman. Gilgamesh is like Argonautika (recently seen at the Shakespeare Theatre), with a little less polish, a little less experience, and a lot less money, but with the same creative theatrical spirit. Once you get past the ridiculous beginning where we are forced to watch the actors warm-up, the performance is a joy. Dressed simply in black, the troupe creates the story using modest means – a couple of scrims, some light gels, and percussive elements such as bottles filled with beans, sticks, and well, hands. From these elements comes a flood, the underworld, beasts, men and gods. The script is rather impressive, excellently formed especially in its beginning and end.
I hope the creators keep developing the piece, keep pushing the extremes of storytelling technique. Perhaps some of the unison chanting should become musical. Bolder choices in characterization, particularly for the minor roles, would really kick it up a notch. Some moments, such as when Enkidu becomes a man, practically scream out to be morphed into dance.