HEAVIER THAN…: 55% – BITTERSWEET

Nick Ballard, top, with Ashanti Brown, Teya Patt and Katie Locke O'Brien in the background in "Heavier Than..." at the Boston Court Performing Arts Center. Credit: Ed Krieger

SWEET
A few things are working in favor of this theatrical long-shot. First, there’s the masculine beauty and brooding sensitivity of shirtless Nick Ballard, who plays the half-man, half-bull creature with a James Dean scowl, camera-ready six-pack and dapper pair of horns. Then there’s Abigail Deser’s stylish staging, which revels in the play’s springy non-naturalism while never stomping on its tender heart. And finally there’s Yockey’s spryly inventive take on an ancient myth, a revisionist approach mixing Classical gravitas with campy humor and post-Freudian angst.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
Yockey’s clever script becomes somewhat puzzling towards the show’s end, but for most of this 75-minute piece, it is thoroughly engaging. Abigail Deser’s fine direction brings out the best in her cast.
Lovell Estell III – LA Weekly

BITTER
The production is given gorgeous designs, including a sweeping set that fits the needs of the storytelling. The script’s metaphor, literateness, deliberate anachronisms, and universality bespeak potential. At this point, however, Steve Yockey’s world premiere play is all fertile ground and no life.
Dany Margolies – Backstage

BITTERSWEET
This is an interesting retelling of the story (there are other versions). I have two objections. First is the characterization of Icarus as a twink. Second, the decision by the playwright and perhaps the director and actor to make Asterius a decidedly contemporary hunk. Unlike in the Lowell play referenced above, in which the cow Io appears, all classicism is lost. This might be in the casting or just the lack of classical training on the part of the actors and director.
Robert Machray – Blogcritics

BITTERSWEET
As a story about a young man with mother issues, the narrative feels a bit strained – it relies on two different versions of visions conjured up by the chorus of three women who share the minotaur’s labyrinth with him. Unlike the story within D is for Dog (above), this narrative does not quite accomplish the task of suspending disbelief consistently enough for us to overlook the underlying artifice.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch

BITTERSWEET
In the Boston Court world premiere, eloquent passages play uneasily against numbingly flat exchanges whose intent is tough to piece out.
Bob Verini – Variety

SWEET
Director Abigail Deser has wrapped this in a stylized, almost minimalist vision, and collected a small and sensitive cast to make the tale come alive. As Asterius, Nick Ballard, though a bit slight, balances a sense of physical power with a childlike innocence. Those who feed this narrow and simple view are the three women who almost literally hang above him and watch. Ashanti Brown, Katie Locke O’Brien and most particularly Teya Patt give a petulant charm to these overwatchers, even as they move from indulgent patience to increasing panic as his innocence begins to fracture.
Frances Baum Nicholson – Stage Struck Review

SWEET
In the end, Heavier Than… A Strange Account of Asterius in the Labyrinth does not disappoint and more often stirs and provokes in a variety of directions.
James Patrick – ProxArt

BITTERSWEET
It’s a professionally done show with a strong cast and a distinctive look, but the play lacks ambition. It’s enjoyable while it’s going on, but not particularly memorable upon leaving the theatre–a solid base hit, but no home-run.
Terry Morgan – LAist

BITTERSWEET
While it’s fun to look at, Heavier than… ends where it really should begin: with a Minotaur struggling against fate rather than simply discovering it.
Anthony Byrnes – Opening the Curtain

BITTERSWEET
Unfortunately, despite the wonderful set, Icarus’ fanciful feathered wings and his flitting and flirting, as well as the charming antics of the chorus, the total effort impresses as more than the material deserves.
Karen Weinstein – Culture Vulture

SWEET
Making its world premiere in Pasadena this last weekend, Steve Yockey’s play is swift (75 minutes or so without an intermission), flirty and witty, but ultimately heartbreaking.
Jana J. Monji – LA Examiner

BITTERSWEET
I caught the last performance of Steve Yockey’s Heavier than … at Boston Court today. While production values were high, the script and lead performances were disappointing.
Sarah Taylor Ellis – Compositions on Theatre

HEAVIER THAN…
Boston Court Performing Arts Center
70 North Mentor Ave., Pasadena
8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends Aug. 21, 2011
Tickets: $32; (626) 683-6883
Running time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

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LemonMeter About the Author: We don’t “review” shows here at the Lemon, rather we "review" reviews by gathering them from a variety of local review sites around the internet, judging them to be positive or negative, then forming an aggregate score that we call a LEMONMETER RATING, showing how well that show has been reviewed in total. For more detail on how the LemonMeter works visit here.

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  1. Just informationally, my last name is Nicholson, not Richardson.

  2. Damnit. I blame all that black tar opium I’ve been smoking lately.

    Sorry, Frances!