Narcissus and Echo | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Narcissus and Echo


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NARCISSUS and ECHO, Emanon Theater Company, at Mayer Kaplan Jewish Community Center. In his holiday comedy The Eight: Reindeer Monologues, playwright Jeff Goode plays the iconoclast, revealing the dark side of the Jolly Old Elf. And in Narcissus and Echo, written two years before The Eight, he attempts a similar trick. He and songwriter Larrance Fingerhut turn all the major figures in the classic Greek myth--about a callow youth who spurns the love of the sweet libidinous nymph Echo--into broad caricatures, effectively transforming the story into a 90-minute fractured fairy tale.

At times their irreverent look at the classic is quite funny, though Goode and Fingerhut's best moments have almost nothing to do with the myth. Goode's best material revolves around Cupid, who narrates: he's revealed to be not the cuddly cherub of candy boxes or the youthful hunk of Renaissance paintings but a crabby middle-aged man (brilliantly played by Phil Gigante) frankly tired of the romance biz. Likewise Fingerhut's best song is a clever little ditty, "Around and Around," strongly reminiscent of Jacques Brel, wittily squeezing all of Aeschylus' tragic Oresteia into a four-minute song.

After a while, however, Emanon Theater's flip take on Greek myth wears thin. As the story progresses, Goode's jokes feel more and more forced and Fingerhut's clever but derivative (and way too long) tunes begin to seem increasingly irrelevant to the story. --Jack Helbig

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