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On Stage

The Acheron

Welcome to Hades!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

As we exited the iDiOM Theater last Saturday night after a viewing of the first episode of The Acheron,  my BFF and I encountered Emily Lester, one of the actresses who’d appeared onstage near the end of the show.

“Is she dead, or isn’t she?” my BFF asked her, referring to the fact that Lester’s character, Iliana, had just been escorted into Hades after a ferryboat trip with a talkative guide across the River Acheron—one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld.

“You’ll have to return next week to find out,” Lester said with a knowing smile.

This wasn’t the only unanswered question we had about the subject matter of the inaugural episode of the five-part play, which offers up a new performance every Friday and Saturday through June 7—complete with episode recaps for those who weren’t able make it to the theater the weekend before.

We also wanted to know the reason most of the denizens of Hades couldn’t remember their past lives on Earth (and why some of them were trying not to forget), what caused the goddess Persephone to develop a drug habit, and why—after centuries of remaining tight-lipped and delivering the newly deceased to the otherworldly lair of Lord Hades without saying a word—the ferryman of lore had decided to start peppering his passengers with questions (and songs). Also, what was up with Don Juan and Voltaire?

Described as an “Orwellian romp through the halls of Hades,” the first episode of The Acheron (pronounced “Atch-eron”) did a spectacular job of capturing the imagination of its viewers. Props go to writer and director Glenn Hergenhahn, who’s written and produced four serial plays before this, and who seems to be undaunted by living his life as iDiOM’s artistic director under a nonstop deadline.

Before the show started, in fact, Hergenhahn mentioned that discounted passes were available for the 2014/2015 season through mid-June. Although those of us who’ve been fans of the Cornwall Avenue space since its inception 12 years ago are used to its ambitious lineups, it looks as if this coming year promises to be a real doozy.

In addition to the 41 different performances that will make their way onstage in the coming season, Hergenhahn informs me there’ll be fewer dark weekends, added show dates, a new ticketing system, opening-night receptions, and much more.

“Live music is a big part of next season,” Hergenhahn says. “48 Hour Theater Festivals will feature live bands, we have our first full-length musical and several other shows with live music. Seven Sicknesses will be our biggest project we’ve ever done, with music and combat and blood—and a 24-person cast and a 4.5-hour running time. We will also be hosting Art Walk openings and cocktail parties and more late-night performances and Wednesday and Sunday night performances. It is a big season.”

Although the supersized season doesn’t begin until September and the current season doesn’t officially end until after the The Acheron comes to a close and the latest iteration of the 48 Hour Theater Festival is presented in mid-June, it’s not likely the theater will stay dark all summer. 

Much like with The Acheron, there’s more to the story,  and those at the iDiOM will do their best to keep their audiences in the loop. I, for one, can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

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