Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre | Theater review

The love triangle in Sheila Callaghan's modern Greek tragedy is as confounding as it is compelling

1/5
Photograph: Johnny Knight

Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre

2/5
Photograph: Johnny Knight

Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre

3/5
Photograph: Johnny Knight

Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre

4/5
Photograph: Johnny Knight

Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre

5/5
Photograph: Johnny Knight

Lascivious Something at Signal Ensemble Theatre

August (Joe McCauley) has made a new life for himself, isolated on a small Greek island with his wife Daphne (Simone Roos). Just days from creating a particularly legendary bottle of wine, he believes he's found the meaning that has always eluded him as a disaffected ’60s revolutionary. That is, until his former lover Liza (Georgann Charuhas) arrives, on the day of Ronald Reagan’s election, bringing August’s life crashing down in Sheila Callaghan’s Euripides-inspired modern Greek tragedy.

August and Daphne’s idyllic home is brought to life by Buck Blue’s inspired scene design. Its beauty contrasts perfectly with the nasty sexual power plays that gnaw at its foundation throughout. Similar surface-reality contrasts occur in the play’s use of time, including an intriguingly disorienting use of instant-replay that reveals subtext and takes it to its unbridled cathartic conclusion before pulling it back within modern boundaries of politeness. Surreal touches like these make the play’s world delightfully unpredictable.

But Callaghan’s 2010 play frustrates as much as it mystifies. It’s compelling while the seeds are being planted, but without any clear direction, it long wears out its welcome. The ensemble’s performances, despite some very strong moments, don’t quite overcome the play’s difficulties. Roos distinguishes herself with her vivacious Daphne, but the rampant sexual tensions are all awkwardness and little heat, spilling out in so many different directions that the conflict feels muddled. Even after the big reveal, it’s difficult to nail down what actually happened or if there was any purpose in telling the story at all.

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