By Nancy Kalajian
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — There was something just barely touching my shoulder and, when I turned my head, I was staring at an angel’s lower leg. Passing by my other shoulder, she quickly made a gentle leap onto the floor and jumped on a neighboring table seating four, then over a railing and onto the main stage, finally climbing up and wrapping her arms around a long pole. Her message of concern for Prometheus was relayed to him and two other pole-hugging angels.
No, this scene wasn’t taking place in heaven but in an eerie yet active stage at one end of Harvard Square. Often looking down from up above, these three-winged Daughters of the Aether, or Ocean, were an ever-present choral presence giving vocal chops and narration to the anxious, yet strong-willed Prometheus, featured in the new rock musical, “Prometheus Bound,” at the Oberon stage of the American Repertory Theater (ART).
This scene may not have happened in the exact sequence as stated above but so much happened in the 80-minute production, I don’t believe it’s too far off the mark. With actors seemingly using every available nook and cranny as a staging ground and with stage assistants carrying actors or moving mini platforms within the main stage, this production of “Prometheus Bound” was a busy, hands-on, immersive affair, not only for the interactive aspect of the stage hands mingling with a standing or sitting audience but for Prometheus who was beaten, chained and tortured for something he firmly believed in — fighting tyranny.
The acting in this production was as strong as the wildest flames. Indeed, in this Ancient Greek tragedy, the Titan named Prometheus (aptly played by actor Gavin Creel) was punished by Zeus for giving mortals the gift of fire. Naked and sweaty from the waist up for the duration of the show, you could really sense the agony Prometheus endured at the hands of Zeus.
For me, I felt a range of emotions in this theatrical experience — from gruesome to unsettling, from courageousness to powerlessness. I was spellbound when Prometheus connected with Io, a human who was seduced by Zeus. Io, played by the powerful singer Uzo Abuda, projected well in The Hunger and What I think of Myself.