Persephone | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Emerging Artists Project, at Cafe Voltaire.

A pity Cafe Voltaire can't serve liquor: you'd have to be bombed to find this spoof anything but 65 moribund minutes of sophomoric fluff. If Persephone were stand-up comedy it would be heckled to bits.

Attempting any comedy crime for a laugh, Chrisi Collins perpetrates a clumsy remake of the Greek legend in which earth mother Demeter invades the underworld to rescue daughter Persephone from a forced marriage to Hades, prince of hell. The compromise worked out, of course, is that the four months of winter unleashed by Persephone's yearly visit to her husband will be balanced by spring, summer, and fall. (But how do you explain this summer, when hell's visited earth?) According to Collins's "life of a teenage goddess," 15-year-old Persephone is a pouty Valley girl, Zeus a drunken cipher, and Hades a misunderstood lech. A chirpy, irritating three-person chorus impersonate trees, bitch about their subordinate roles, and indulge in cheap anachronisms (a hungover Zeus can't open the childproof bottle of aspirin they give him).

Rather than reinvent the legend, Collins's toga-party treatment simply supplies gloppy exposition from the classical lexicon. (In the one remotely fresh reconstruction, bratty Persephone messes up Oedipus' last chance to keep his beloved Eurydice.) Broad and shameless, Steve Decker's jerky, goofy staging fills this amateur hour with hammy-hip, camp-crazed bad vaudeville. Imagining themselves twice as funny as they are, the Emerging Artists Project work only half as hard as they should. It makes you wonder what anyone thought this could ever be.

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