Ion, Shakespeare Theatre

There's a cheekiness running through the veins of Ethan McSweeney's production of Ion at the Shakespeare Theatre, and one can't help but feel that Euripides would have heartily approved. From the inspired interpretation of the Chorus to the best use of Aaron Cromie's puppets I've seen in years, Ion is a treat, a sort of theatrical apple tart- tasty and hearty, all at once. Ion is rarely performed, and this production leaves you asking, Why on earth not? This is delicious theatre.

From Aubrey Deeker's extravagant entrance onto the stage of Sidney Harman Hall, the audience is firmly situated into the world of Euripides' play. Keith Eric Chappelle is an engaging lead as Ion, but the play truly comes alive at the entrance of the Chorus. These five women (Rebecca Baxter, Lise Bruneau, Kate Debelack, Laiona Michelle, Patricia Santomasso) navigate with seeming ease both the interplay between the Chorus and the other characters and the challenging settings of the stasimon (choral odes, for those not up on their Theatre 110 vocabulary) written by Michael Roth for this production. Each woman has created a distinct character within the unity of the Chorus, and it is a pure delight to watch them perform. Indeed, it's the women who shine the most in this production: Lisa Harrow's Creusa is brilliantly realized and captivating to behold, dignified and vulnerable. Her description of her rape by Apollo is easily the emotional climax of the evening, and its weight reverberates throughout the rest of the performance.

McSweeney's production expertly straddles the line between comedy and tragedy and moves back and forth over that divide throughout the course of the evening as the text demands. The performances are excellent and the overall effect divine. Ion makes a convincing case for just why the ancient Greeks might have been so passionate and supportive of this strange new form called theatre, and it certainly leaves today's audiences satisfied and eager for more; I certainly left the Hall wondering how soon I could come back and see it again. HIGHLY recommended.


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