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Tales of Doomed Love (or is it ever worth it?) Studio Theatre, Stage Four

Remaining performances: July 24, 9 p.m. July 25 at 6 p.m. July 26 at 6:30 July 27 at 2 p.m.

They say: Funny, biting, and heart wrenching, classic stories turned on their heads ask us if love is really worth all the pain, shining unexpected new light on the answer. The Triangle Independent called Tales… in development “The best original script we saw in this region last year.” From veteran Capital Fringe hit-makers.

Ted’s take: Funny, strange, and reasonably nimble in its epochal leaps, Tales functions best as a greatest hits compilation. As with any compilation, purists may gripe that “Philomela was underrepresented” or that “they should have included more of Euripides’ early stuff”—but there’s comfort in the familiar, and even if you can’t whistle along with every confessional episode, you can at least tune in and out without fear of losing the frequency.

Your characters? Romeo & Juliet (herein traduced to high school sweethearts); Glauce, Jason’s Corinthian replacement for Medea; Agamemnon, daughter-slaughterer at Aulis; Lisé, jilted step-sister to Cinderella; and King Mark, husband to Isolde and occasional dallier with Tristan. The humor? Neat, allusive, and the beneficiary of a consistently light touch. Best moments: Hilary Kacser’s blithely girlish turns as Juliet, and her backtracking explanation (as Lisé) of dismembering herself (“I should clarify…”). The drawbacks are simple: an hour and change of soliloquies tends to drain, while the soliloquies themselves spend half their time in confessional exposition.

What did I learn?

  • That a pastiche’s imperative is to tell oft-told stories either better or differently, which, despite occasional lulls and hackneyings, this one does.
  • That the rosiness-by-dimunition of this Romeo and Juliet rendering does little to abate the consistently doomstruck nature of the piece; on the contrary, it poignantly highlights what makes the tales, if barely, worth it.

See it if: You always sided with Dido vs. Aeneas…and you enjoyed Stardust more than you care to admit.

Skip it if: You can’t restrain your skepticism when you hear someone’s got a new take on Homer, Shakespeare, or Euripides.