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Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Playing chess with Death? Never a good idea. Falling in love with Death? An even worse idea and many relationship advice columnists would no doubt agree. The Portland Opera's production of Philip Glass' take on Orphée, the 1950 Jean Cocteau film, opened over the weekend. It follows a Parisian poet as he struggles with a midlife crisis, career problems and an ill-fated fling with the supernatural.
There's nary a large woman in a Viking hat to be found in this one. The set is eerie, mid-century and cold. It looks like a cross between an office on Mad Men and Spock's coffin from Star Trek II. Performed in French, the production feels like it might have been secretly directed by David Lynch, especially when the characters find themselves plunged into a mirror-image underworld in act II.
Duality and mirrors play a major part in Orphée and they kept the audience on the edge of their seat when I saw it last Friday. At one point, a character repeatedly opens a door with a mirror attached to it, shining stage lights into the eyes of everyone sitting in the orchestra level. During the second act, another character forebodingly wanders the stage with another mirror. I figured, at any second, he was going to turn and hit the audience with a few more bolts.
Not to reveal any spoilers but no one went home that night with a temporary case of blindness.
Orphée continues through November 15th at the Keller. Click here for tickets and further info.