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Shadow of Himself
Influences of the Gilgamesh story are thought to be found in Homer's Odyssey, the story of the flood in the Bible and myths surrounding Alexander the Great. The themes of friendship and the search for immortality have proven irresistible for people throughout the ages.
Neal Bell's plays include Two Small Bodies, Raw Youth, Cold Sweat, On the Bum and Spatter Pattern, also inspired by the myth. His Shadow of Himself, now making its world premiere in a Rabbit Hole Ensemble production, is helmed by Edward Elefterion. With a bare stage, no costuming to speak of and characters who have names like Soldier, Woman and Shadow of Himself is a play that relies heavily on myth, metaphor, allegory and an audience willing to sit through eighty minutes of actors walking around in the semi-darkness being profound.
When the actors aren't being profound and poetic, they are making allusions to contemporary figures like Tom Cruise, Alex Trebeck an Anderson Cooper or reciting dialogue such as — Gil: "Do you want to fuck?". . . Woman: "Fuck yourself, you're closer." It's easy to at times become confused.
Matt W. Cody plays Gil (get it?) and Mark Cajigao was slated to play his pal, NK (a little bit more of a stretch, but not much). But Cajigao is being replaced by the director until he recovers from a serious illness. Cody, Elefterion and the three other cast members — Daniel Ajl Kitrosser, Adam Swiderski and Emily Hartford— all give their roles great energy and physicality. In fact, there was so much wrestling, punching and slapping it was surprising that there was no fight coach. But, in the end, there's a lot more movement than action.
The story, can be summed up in a few sentences. Gilgamesh is king. He's not too bad a guy, but power does corrupt, so after a while it goes to his head and he stops listening to his subjects. Then he meets a wild man in the woods, and the two become friends. All goes well until the two friends take on an expedition to kill a terrible monster. During the journey, NK meets his death and somehow this lesson on mortality makes Gil a better and wiser king.
If Bell or anyone in the cast had made even one of the characters involved mildly interesting, Shadow of Himself might have made some kind of an impression. As it is, the play is just a shadow of the story. Anyone who wants the real thing should read the tablets.