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Persephone’s Prerogative (Review)

By Kathy Valin · May 30th, 2013 · Fringe
The FringeNext series of shows, now in its third year as an element of the Cincinnati Fringe, invites performances produced, created and performed by high school students. One of this year’s entries is Persephone’s Prerogative, presented in the black box theater at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. (There was no program or announcement with credits; the show was produced by “Pear of Artists” a troupe “that resides in the land of ye old School for Creative and Performing Arts.”) The four cast members entered enthusiastically into their roles and, I must say, had excellent diction.

On one side of the stage, a young woman (Julia) and a cameraman (Brian) prepare to shoot a reality show, Battle or Go Baroque. They bicker between the brief shoots, with Julia pushing the preposterous premise of the show in increasingly histrionic terms. However, when she talks with Brian, she is scathingly critical of the whole endeavor. Meanwhile, she is constantly receiving phone calls from Mr. Winberg, who turns out to be her father, in addition to running the production company. He threatens that they are in danger of losing their jobs unless they increase their ratings for the show.


On the other side of the stage, two young women, Meryl and Anne, sit in chairs, waiting to begin what they think is an audition. What they don’t know is that the wait and their ensuing interactions are the reality show, something never revealed to them during the play. Sure enough, their wait turns into back-and-forth bickering (the funniest part of the show), but they gradually come to an understanding, rather like Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. At one point their conversation veers into a discussion of Persephone from Greek mythology. Meryl says she would not go to Hades willingly and would “fight until I got out.”

Meanwhile, Julie is becoming more and more fed up with the cheapness and stupidity of the premise of a reality show. Finally, she tells the voice on the other end of the phone “No, no, no, I’m not doing that, Dad” — doing the bidding of her father in order to get good ratings? Is this the prerogative in the play’s title? She also pulls a pomegranate from her purse as a snack. There’s a bit about her telling her dad she broke a vase and hopes that he will keep the flowers alive.

What does all this have to do with the Persephone myth? Probably not a whole lot, but I guess I got the idea. Meanwhile, Ann and Meryl, still waiting for their audition to begin, surmise that “nothing happens if you wait” and that they are “prisoners of art.” Oh, well, concludes Meryl, “I suppose it will be worth the wait.”

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: 7:15 p.m. May 30 and 8 p.m. June 1 at SCPA. Find more of CityBeat's ongoing 2013 Cincy Fringe Festival coverage, including performance reviews, commentary and venue details, here.



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