Elysium
CoHo Theater, 2257 NW Raleigh, 220-2646, Sat Oct 29, 2 pm, $8-10

When I first saw the flyer for this musical, I felt a little suspicious: Across the top, bold letters declare "THIS PLAY IS THE END OF GREEK TRAGEDY." Below it lists the keys in which the musical score is performed (Gm, Cm, Bb M, and Bb Dorian, if you're curious). Touches like this usually mean the artist either overestimates the importance of his own work, or he's sarcastically poking fun at similar attitudes, or in exceptional cases, he's just sincere and oblivious. Elysium may have been self-important or ironic or just plain sincere—whatever it was, the show was just okay.

It began with a scatterbrained introduction by playwright Charles Steen that (sort of) explained the subject matter: discontinuities in Greek myth, revolving around the stories of Medea, Orpheus, Helen, Achilles, and others—it really didn't turn out to matter very much. The show kicked off with a lo-fi keyboard techno beat, the speed of which remained constant through the entire performance. Characters and a chorus came out one by one and described their plights in rhyming verse. The overwhelming feature of the show was this rhyme scheme, which so strictly guided the delivery of the actors that the scheme itself became the star of the show. At times it felt like spending an hour and a half with just one dithering character from Alice in Wonderland—like spending the whole time watching that sleep-talking mouse at the Mad Hatter's tea party over and over and over again; this made me feel like I was on Valium. Many of the characters came off as flat (although they looked great doing it), and were a bit like the femmebots from Austin Powers: cool, chic, airy, aloof, beautiful, and inaccessible. Orpheus and Medea were the only two with much depth to speak of.

So, all these discontinuous myths get into something akin to a four-myth pileup, which is a really interesting idea, but ends up looking more like Greek mythological characters at the high-school prom: petty fighting, jealousy, lust, and drunkenness rule the plot, and slightly egomaniacal stream-of-consciousnesses rules the script. All in all, the costumes looked great.