Theater Review: Synetic Theater welcomes "Beauty and the Beast" with a twist
Synetic Theater’s “Beauty and the Beast” is a retelling of an old classic that adds even more excitement than the original through carefully constructed choreography, costume and an incredible set design.
Even the lighting of the stage played an immense role in revealing the plot because the director used shadows behind canvas to add dramatic effect, action and even transformation of the beast and his curse. Shadows were a major plot element to this play, not only because they added mysticism to a live performance, but also because they hinted at even broader plot elements: dark vs light and idealism vs reality.
In this adaptation, the curse of the beast was manifest in a woman—the other woman, you could say. The performance begins with this line: “Once upon a time… There was a prince, and a prince loved a girl, Emmeranne, but she was not the kind of girl princes marry.” Heartbroken, deceived and burned, Emmeranne narrates the entire play through a lens of jealousy and rage.
The love between the Beast and Belle is conflicting to the audience, because the audience knows all too well that he was a beast far before he looked the part. His physical appearances are a result of that—a reminder, actually--of the terrible person he was as a man. In addition, there is another lead female character Emmeranne and others, like a few jealous sisters of Belle, who transform this traditional tale into a new perspective on “true love” and its horrific consequences. The Beast may have to fall in love to break his curse, but his curse is the result of another love gone awry. Emmeranne is a past love that is not to be messed with, especially after she’s been burned by it.
And of course, there is the rose, the one which marks the frail time the Beast has left of his humanity. The infamous rose within the play represents the Beast’s heart—the only human aspect of him that is left after his frightful curse swallows him and his entire kingdom. The rose is the object in which the Beast looks upon every day, and the thing that may someday bring him redemption.
Synetic draws on the darkness and sensuality of the original French fairy tale to create a passionate and inspiring Gothic romance. The production is primarily movement based with some dialogue, and adds a darker, scarier twist to the Disney classic.
If you think you already know everything there is to know about the Beast, his castle and a beautiful girl with her head always in a book, you may want to think twice.
“Beauty and the Beast,” produced by Paata Tsikurishivili, directed by Ben Cunis and adapted by Ben and Peter Cunis, will run through Dec. 3 to Jan. 11 at Synetic Theater in Crystal City, Virginia. Ticket prices depend on time and seating, but can range from $15 to $100,