The term "audience participation" probably triggers a cold sweat, but tell me the last time it meant having a bow and arrow aimed at you during the show.
With its newest theatrical piece, Midas, movement company PrismCo. creates an atmosphere for its audience that is unsettling, enchanting, and refreshingly different. It's an immersive, wordless retelling of the Greek myth that leads its voyeuristic viewers through a living museum of the lonely king's life, showing how this man ended up rich but heartbreakingly alone.
It's also one of PrismCo.'s most emotionally successful pieces to date, blending story with dance, sword fighting, clowning, and magic tricks to achieve a balanced result. Company co-founder Katy Tye shaped the story — like most PrismCo. shows there is no traditional dialogue, just grunts and whimpers and gibberish that are translated through facial expressions and body language — and it's the thread that ties all the movement together and gives it purpose.
Director Jeffrey Colangelo stages Midas in two rooms at the Oak Cliff Cultural Center, with artwork on the walls from My Possibilities students, giving audiences a chance to experience 360-degree theater. Rafael Tamayo, sporting a gold-painted suit jacket and leaning on a gold cane, welcomes his guests in the lobby, taking special care not to shake their hands. He's jocular, shepherding everyone inside to a table set for a feast.
Some sleight of hand helps turn the grapes and wine to heavy gold (Trigg Watson consulted on the magic, and it's performed flawlessly, even right up close), and flashes of annoyance begin to crack Tamayo's facade. Once it's clear his party is a bust, he moves over to a lamé-draped figure.
Ky Cassandra is revealed, coated entirely in shimmery gold and frozen with her arms raised and eyes closed. A tender tune begins to play, and we see the couple's courtship as they waltz through the crowd and around the room. Jake Nice's music is evocative throughout, and Jonah Gutierrez's lighting helps distinguish between flashbacks and present day.
In the next room we meet Midas' sons, one (Gutierrez) a strapping warrior and the other (Samuel Cress) a playful trickster. With Gutierrez, Tamayo throws aside his cane and brandishes a sword, flattening the audience to the edges of the room as they duel. With Cress, there's juggling and a fair bit of humorous miming, showing how the younger son keeps the king grounded.
This all makes revisiting the first room even harder, because it's then that we witness Midas' cursed touch come into effect. No explanation is given for how he acquired it, nor do we really need one. It's enough to watch his family (including the late-emerging Debbie Crawford) fall victim to his greed and his realization at all he has lost. And you might just find yourself edging away from Tamayo as he careens around the room in grief — just in case.
PrismCo.'s production of Midas runs through October 23.