Pro: A 2,000-year-old play is still relevant today. Con: It’s about income inequality. The rich get richer and poor get poorer, some things never change.
Adapted from the Aristophanes’ play of the same name, director Derek Van Barham takes the 388 BC Greek comedy “Wealth” and reworks it for a modern audience. The play’s overall theme is wealth, and how it’s been taken by those with questionable morals, leaving the good, and deserving, poor.
The adaptation follows the original play, but only in concept and with certain characters, which is great. Barham worked with the ensemble cast to give the play some modern day humor. They did so by using pop culture references, original music, and occasionally breaking the fourth wall. A great example would be the monologue given by Cario the servant, played by Israel Moskovits. As Cario is giving his monologue he is interrupted by Chremylos, Stephen H. Kozak. He asks the servant, “Who are you talking to?”
One of the reasons Barham decided to direct the play, was because of the cast. “Wealth” was a group effort, between cast and director, in writing and adapting the play to a modern audience.
“What really attracted me to it, and the reason I wanted to do it was, one of the original goals, when the show was selected, was to have the ensemble build the show together; and knowing that, I was really excited in creating our own version of it,” said Barham.
The play centers on Plutus, Tyler Wynd, the god of wealth, who’s been blind for centuries as a punishment from Zeus for giving wealth to the intrinsically good. When Plutus is given a chance to possess the body of a human, he does so, yet he is still blind. The play starts getting interesting when the body he possessed was one of Chremylos’ party guests. Chremylos is a rich man gone broke, who is celebrating his birthday party with his friends and family. If Plutus’ eye sight is restored he can continue in giving wealth to those who actually deserve it.
“We modernized a lot of the dialogue, and a lot of the Greek constructs are still there. We still had the idea that in middle of a scene, somebody will just step out, and have a speech for the audience. There are also a lot of musical interludes that we created; it’s still very Greek in structure but the spin we put on is a lot more contemporary.”
One of the best aspects of the play was the, Tyler Miles, being the pianist hired to play throughout Chremylos’ party. Whether it was playing a jaunty tune while the party goers sang, or striking an ominous chord to a foreboding prophesy, Miles composed all the music.
Not only were the songs catchy, but they kept the play from losing momentum. Any possible dip was met with a song and dance, which brought me back, and kept me invested. Though on occasion, there was a contrast between the cast’s ability to project when singing; this led to an inability in hearing the lyrics.
The 75 minute play was genuinely fun. The cast was energetic, and ready to entertain. There was singing and dancing, crude humor and cursing. Sort of like a Family guy episode, except it was charming. Perhaps this is due to the play being straight to the point. This wasn’t an overburdened stay; everything that needed to be said was said.
If anything, I was disappointed that the play felt more like a comedy skit, due to how fast it went by. Though, I also appreciated the fact that I didn’t become bored with it. Really, it was an enjoyable time.