Addison — Outcry Theatre Company takes on a classical myth of two brothers and adapts it for a modern audience thorough both poetic language and a fantastic (and very demanding) physical movement performance. In Dreams of Icarus, director Becca Johnson-Spinos and actors Logan Beutel and Dyland Weand together co-create and devise an intricate and totally accessible narrative that clearly exposes the heart of the struggle between the mythical Icarus and his older brother, Deadalus.
Audiences may recognize Icarus (Dyland Weand) as the one whose dream of flying takes him dangerously close to the sun and to his demise. Possibly a lesser known story is that of his inventor brother, Deadalus (Logan Beutel), whose talent is that of inventing things to solve practical problems. Icarus, on the other hand, is the dreamer. Thus the story is framed as a fraternal struggle between the idealist dreamer and the pragmatist inventor. Which is more important the story or the invention? By the end of the play, this question is clearly answered.
What sets this version apart is the efficacy with which story telling weaves seamlessly with movement that sometimes can be described as dance and others as daring physical theater. There are wild fight scenes, poetic dream sequences and the representation of multiple characters throughout. Both live and recorded music play an important role, as does lighting (by Jason Johnson-Spinos). For those unfamiliar with the Stone Cottage, it is an open space with no stage of any kind. There are real windows to the outside which were brilliantly and economically incorporated into the performance. There is also minimal costumes and props, which makes the performance the key element in this play (costumes by Weand and Becca Johnson-Spinos; wings and Minotaur design by Gabriell Grafrath of Gigi’s Workshop).
According to actor/co-creator Dylan Weand (Icarus), the creation of Dreams of Icarus “was a very slow process… with three creative minds at work trying to build this stellar story…” Actors Logan, Weand and director Johnson-Spinos first established the parts of the story appropriate for dance… then decided on the song that best fit it. After that they began the slow process of choreographing together. Thus there is no separate choreographer or fight scene coordinator.
Once you see this play, you can see what a truly laudable feat this was. On top of tables, jumping off each other, and numerous other daring aerial moves had me gasping. You can see the bruised legs and feet of the actors during this barefoot performance as a testament of the arduous work they put in to build this play.
This narrative takes the long route at telling the conflictual story of two brothers, exiled from Athens to Minos and imprisoned in a tower, where they build the infamous Minotaur’s labyrinth. This is to say that to those with little or no knowledge of the myth, this story spells things out. No need for background in the classics.
Running approximately two hours and 15 minutes (with intermission), some of the dance segments — beautiful and evocative though they were — did seem a bit long as the play ran on.
The play is suitable for audiences of all ages, and particularly to those with a love and appreciation for the classics. Part of their professional series (versus their youth theater productions) Dreams of Icarus has both substance and heart. Particularly praiseworthy is the hands-on creative experience that director Johnson-Spinos provides young actors as co-creators. Logan Beutel (Daedelus) has been training with Outcry for about eight years and Dylan Weand about three.
Go for the story, the wonderful music, and marvel at the energetic and heart-felt performance.
» Teresa Marrero is professor of Latin American and Latinx Theater in the Spanish Department at the University of North Texas. She is a member of the American Theater Critics Association and is on the Advisory board of the Latinx Theater Commons. She is co-editor with Chantal Rodriguez (Yale) and Trevor Boffone (U of Houston) of the anthology ENCUENTRO: Latinx Performance for the New American Theater (2019, Northwestern University Press). Her Spanish-language play, La Familia, is published in Teatro Latino: Nuevas Obras de los Estados Unidos (2019, available on Amazon). She is working on her third play, Second-Hand Conversations wit Irene, which pays homage to two women with dementia.