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'Metamorphoses 2023' adapted by Ovid. Written by Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour in collaboration with the cast

Presented by Theatre Smith-Gilmour in association with Crow's Theatre

Courtesy of Theatre Smith-Gilmour's Facebook page

Joe Szekeres

A tapestry of viscerally passionate choreographed movement.

The first time I saw Theatre Smith-Gilmour’s work was a bold take on the classic French novel ‘Les Misérables’ in 2018 at the Theatre Centre.

At that time, the famous story was pared down to its essential thematic essence. And it worked!
This time Theatre Smith Gilmour takes a daring leap in paring and adapting Ovid’s epic poem ‘Metamorphoses’. Several Greek mythological characters take centre stage: Jupiter, Juno, Narcissus, Diana, and Tiresias are only a few. According to the production director, Michele Smith, she: [loves] Ovid’s philosophy of life as a long wave of transformation.” Being alive for individuals is something that constantly changes. There is no stasis in being alive.

This striking 2023 adaptation holds a mirror up to our life and asks us if our world has really changed over time.

Apparently not.

This adventurous tale written by Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour in collaboration with the performers still highlights the control of men and their dominance over women and their rage through dance, movement, mime, silence, spoken word and illusion. Rape, murder, and deceit are only three themes entwining these tales together.

Within this ‘Metamorphoses 2023’, there is a great deal to watch and behold; however, I’ve never held a huge interest in mythology. Yes, I’m aware that mythological stories provide contexts for all kinds of storytelling.

Mythology just never appealed to me.

That’s not to say ‘Metamorphoses 2023’ is any less because I don’t hold a lot of interest in Greek mythology.

Au contraire.

At first glance of the Crow’s Theatre Guloien stage, the adage ‘less is more’ applies here. Five chairs are centre stage under a spotlight. A few props are found on the chairs and ground.

The performers are dressed in black. Costume Designer Tiana Kralj’s neutral dark colour adds a style of mystery. The artists enter and sit in the chairs at the top of the show. They appear to be actors who are physically preparing before going on the stage. An imaginary mirror is in front of them. One of the actors applies lipstick; another primping her hair. Another is doing what I think are lip trills and facial exercises.

What I find fascinating about actors preparing to become characters – they like to sit and stare just for a few minutes and do a quick admiration of whom they will become. Is it temporarily narcissistic? I don’t believe so as actors take great care to ensure they want to tell the truth about who they are and their importance in the narrative.

Michele Smith’s carefully nuanced direction imaginatively weaves the series of vignettes into a tapestry of passionately visceral choreographed movement. The propelled pacing never appears rushed or forced. The diversity of the five artists in height, stature, frame, and build makes this production real. I applaud them all for feeling comfortable with their bodies in their exploration of movement. At times, I could hear the artists breathe as they moved about the stage precisely and with clarity.

Some of the stories are thrilling to watch. Rob Feetham’s Narcissus brought a smile to my face because he simply exudes an extreme love of self as he sits with the beautiful Echo (Sukruti Tirupattur). What makes this moment eye-catching was Simon Rossiter’s gorgeous lighting of replicating undulating water on the stage. As Narcissus, Feetham’s gaze into the pool of water and admiring himself remains visually strong as does the ever-so-silent pouring of water over the head of one of Echo’s drowned lovers.

Neena Jayarajan’s Juno and Daniel R. Henkel’s Jupiter certainly provided a few laughs in the delineation of the distinct roles of men and women within society. At first, Juno and Jupiter are vocally heard in the throes of passionate lovemaking. Then we finally see them. Even after hitting the sheets and the look on their faces, there remains a distance between the two. The discussion about who enjoys sex more – men or women – at first is comical but also raises topical and social thought.

Dean Gilmour’s stylistic performance as the blind narrator Tiresias reaches out beyond the confines of the stage and speaks directly to the audience with incredible focused intensity. His Tiresias having lived as both a man and woman represents experienced wisdom and sagacity.

Final Comments: Metamorphoses 2023 becomes enchanting storytelling which perhaps might just make this old guy want to learn more about Greek mythology.

Production runs for 80 minutes with no intermission.

‘Metamorphoses 2023’ runs to April 9 in the Guloien Theatre at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto. For tickets, call the Box Office (647) 341-7390 or visit


Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses 2023” written by Michele Smith and Dean Gilmour in collaboration with the cast

Directed by Michele Smith
Lighting Designer: Simon Rossiter
Set and Costume Designer: Tiana Kralj
Music and Sound Designer: Johnny Hockin
Stage Manager: Andrew Dollar

Performers: Rob Feetham, Dean Gilmour, Daniel R. Henkel, Neena Jayarajan, Sukruti Tirupattur.

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