THE FROGS by Aristophanes
Translated by Marianne McDonald and J Michael Walton
And Aristophanes’ Frogs in a rollicking farce, satirizing the sometimes pompous Aeschylus, and trendy Euripides. Even Dionysus the god of theatre comes in for laughs. Doug Lay, the director, and a splendid cast, will have your sides splitting.
Directed by Douglas Lay
and Melissa Hamilton
Scenic Design by Vince Sneddon
Lighting Design by Mitchell Simovsky
Costume Design by Douglas Lay
Sound Design by Eusevio Cordova
Satge Manager - Rena Lyons
Cast in Alphabetical Order:
Chris Fonseca (Charon/Pluto/Chorus of Initiates)
Anthony Gordon Hamm (Bearers/Chorus of Initiates/Frog)
Fred Harlow (Xanthias/Aeschylus)
Jen Hunter (Plathane/Frog)
Celeste Innocenti (Muse/Chorus of Initiates/Frog)
Douglas Lay (Dionysus)
Shondra Mirelle (Corpse/Chorus of Initiates/Frog)
Michael Nieto (Heracles/Euripides)
Joseph Stephens (Bearer/Frog)
Bonnie Stone (Frog)
Artistic Director - Doug Lay
Producing Director - Melissa Hamilton
Technical Director - Vince Sneddo
This will be performed at the Ark
The Ark Theatre, 899 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101
Ticket Prices: $18-$22
Critics “The Frogs” opens, as stand-up comedy acts still do, with Aristophanes warming up the crowd with lowdown, scatological humor. In an overlong mimed prologue to the action, Lay lays on the shtick. We see a toga and a pair of legs sticking out from a curtain accompanied by snoring and flatulence. Somebody's sleeping off a bender – Dionysus, the god of wine and theater.
The Abbott and Costello routines that follow involve the deadpan, put-upon servant Xanthius (Fred Harlow) one-upping his boss. When their give-and-take is not too loudly insistent, it's really funny, thanks in large part to a lively adaptation by J. Michael Walton and UCSD professor Marianne McDonald.
“The Frogs” is a clever first choice for The Theatre Inc.'s [Douglas Lay and Melissa Hamilton] enterprise, for it looks back on the first era of Western tragic drama with a gimlet eye.
Anne Marie Welsh, San Diego Union Tribune
The script of The Frogs (translated by UCSD’s Dr. Marianne McDonald and J. Michael Walton) is raucous, vulgar, even scatological, lending itself to oddball costumes and loony stage business, and that’s exactly the treatment it gets. This is a pull-out-all-the-stops production, full of nonstop activity, slapstick, sight gags, vulgarity and just plain silliness, not to mention the obligatory moral, this time about the decline of civilization as it was then known..They’re all wonderful. Were the Greeks always sophisticated, philosophical and serious? Nope, sometimes they were just plain fun.
Jean Lowerison, Gay and Lesbian Times
A new local troupe called The Theatre, Inc., here presenting Aristophanes’ "The Frogs" as their inaugural production, demonstrate afresh that this ancient script with its immemorial jokes, in a modern translation by Marianne McDonald and J. Michael Walton, can still hold a stage and tickle an audience.
Douglas Lay directs the show, in collaboration with Melissa Hamilton, with himself playing, most entertainingly, the central role of Dionysus (or Bacchus) – raucous god of theatre and inebriation – who wants to visit the Underworld and see once more his favorite playwright, the deceased Euripides.
George Weinberg-Harter, San Diego Arts
Fans of McDonald's other play translations will laugh along knowingly as Euripides criticizes Aeschylus for writing long, repetitive plays with virtually no stage action, and Aeschylus counters by calling Euripides (whose plays were the first to focus on the lives of common men, women and children) a "sleazy musician" who got all of his plot ideas in brothels.
The best thing about Lay's production is Lay himself, who steals the show with his quirky, animated personality and odd looks (he bears a striking resemblance to the late character actor Vincent Schiavello ---- you know, the subway spook in the movie "Ghost"). Belching, farting, bellowing and interacting hilariously with the audience, Lay is a larger-than-life character playing, well, a larger-than-life character.
It's so light-hearted and naughty, in fact, that its serious message almost gets lost in the shuffle. Dionysus needs a playwright to bring hope to the Greek people who are at their spiritual ebb thanks to a drawn-out and devastating war. Will it be the popular people's poet who finds human qualities in the gods or the stuffy idealist who looks for godlike qualities in man? It's an interesting point to ponder and in the finale, McDonald throws in a small but pointed dig at our current administration and war situation. - Pam Kragen, North County Times -