Epic in scope, yet open in heart, University Players concludes its 59th season with the Windsor debut of the wildly energetic Big Love, written by Charles L. Mee. The show runs from tonight (March 23) to March 25 and continues after Easter weekend from April 4 to 8 at the Essex Hall Theatre.
Based on the ‘Suppliant Woman’ by Aeschylus, one of the oldest texts of the Western world, the play revolves around 50 brides from Greece who flee to Italy to avoid marriage from their 50 grooms. When the grooms seek after the brides to take their hand in marriage, the resistance leads to a chess match of the sexes. Each group is represented by three actors, and their perspectives provide an insightful look on love as they grapple with the lack the choice they have in how to lead their lives.
““Our movement professor Gina Lori Riley focused on an approached performance method originated by Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki, which creates a very fantastical, realist type of atmosphere,” reveals Sean Williams, who plays Constantine in the show. “So, when people come to this show, they’ll get a modern take on a fabulous Greek tragedy with some heightened realistic drama created through movement. There’s a lot of fantastic choreography that we’ve woven into the storyline and we’re eager to find out if Windsor audiences love the approach we’ve taken.”
Director Monica Dottor says the show will be “different than anything University Players has seen before.” The play might be based on a historic text, but this production takes place in the modern day and makes for an exciting retelling for today’s audiences. The addition of wildly physical elements brings a fresh and absurd take on the classic tale. Big Love is a story of love, murder, passion, food fights, power struggles, refugees, gender politics, and violence.
“It’s really zany, it’s really wild, it has really important themes that resonate today. I think it’ll just be a really enjoyable evening,” she says.
Big Love is a fairly new play, having it first performance in only 2000. It speaks of not only traditional Greek issues, but modern ones as well – it’s a gender war with both men and women sifting through the rubble of dysfunctional relationships. The University Players have elected to use both male and female actors for all different rolls, which will find actors donning wedding dresses at times.
“This play challenges the stereotypical conceptions of what it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine,” Williams explains. “I know the cast has taken it upon themselves challenging these understandings and that’s a little bit of what makes this such a fun project for us.”
All performances from Wednesday to Saturday start at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday matinee performances are at 2 p.m. On Sunday March 25, a “Talk Back” discussion with the actors will follow the performance. Essex Hall Theatre is located on the University of Windsor campus on the corner of Wyandotte and Patricia.
Tickets range from $8 to $22, and can be ordered online at www.UniversityPlayers.com or by calling 519-253-3000 ext. 2808.