Presented by Liars & Believers
Based on the Greek Myth “Icarus”
Conceived and Directed by Jason Slavick
Music and lyrics by Nathan Leigh
Review by Noe Kamelamela
(Cambridge) ICARUS was developed and premiered by five year old company Liars & Believers (LAB) in Cambridge last year. It is fitting that it would come back to roost after a successful flight through Boston and New York. Clearly using their official residency with the ART to their advantage, LAB refreshes their hit for a longer and stronger run.
The propaganda and flyers which littered the seating area, props and costumes hearkened back to the late 20s and early 30s and provided context for the coming performance. I’m pleased that an area band plays for each pre-show: that is a testament to LAB’s very real dedication to promoting local artists. Americana is woven throughout the show, not only by the curation of physical objects but also through music that wanders through bluegrass, folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues and back again. The accents of the actors are of an American patois that sounds as if the travellers hailed from all corners of the continental US at the time. Although based on Greek and American myths that are quite dusty, the addition of less traditional forms of storytelling keep the work fresh.
The Great Depression has been lionized in the modern age. American media depicts that era as a simpler time filled with people heroically struggling to survive against poverty, against hunger, and against each other. The setting as most would understand it here is a jumping point to ask difficult ethical questions about how we treat each other. I believe that mature children or young teenagers could come to ICARUS, but there is quite a bit of emotional and physical violence depicted onstage, so leave the tiniest ones at home.
Bring your imagination and allow the side-show to draw you in, where the same magic that makes the traveling spectacle work brought the financial world to its knees (capitalism!). Absent large amounts of space and mechanical marvels, magic is translated via inventive blocking and human powered movement of set pieces and puppets, which includes synchronized multi-performer manipulations. The show smoothly glides along through a captivating 80 minutes.
The ensemble’s interplay with each other and the audience brought to life the tale of two young lovers striving to achieve independence from their respective families and society’s expectations. The hubris of youth is charging in without a plan, the hubris of the old is clinging to fatalism. Each actor and musician gets a chance to shine. A particular heart-wringer is Veronica Barron’s performance of a song about the loss of the company lifestyle. Despite all of the tragedy writ large, the audience can rely on the multi-faceted Aimee Rose Ranger as Minnie Minoseczeck to bring back smiles and smirks with excellent delivery of the most memorable lines in the show.
Although LAB hasn’t publicized what’s on deck for the near future, I’m certain they will have more to present at Oberon before the end of their residency with the ART. In the meanwhile, keep an eye to the skies for more touring of ICARUS.