Icarus Blue, Theatre School, DePaul University, Merle Reskin Theatre. For all her serious inquiries into the power of myth and allegiance to the writings of Joseph Campbell, playwright Naomi Iizuka never cheapens her work by taking a lazy classicist approach, instead placing mythology in a jarringly modern context. Icarus Blue is the first of her works tailored to an adolescent audience–and like most children’s theater, Iizuka’s reinterpretation of the Icarus myth is slight enough that her characters never approach the depths of a hero’s journey. Still, she manages to make some trenchant observations on the nature of diversity.
Director James Ostholthoff fashions an appropriately kaleidoscopic world for Iizuka’s colorful characters. Teenage runaway Icarus sports a pair of truncated wings and a blue lightning bolt on one side of his face, while carnival barker Walter the Wolfman parades around in a crimson cowboy getup encrusted with rhinestones. Megan Chapman Collins’s set design–which places the action in the gaping maw of a fanged beast–is similarly full of innovations, like a rollicking 16-wheeler powered by stagehands and a giant multitiered cake garnished with crustaceans. Ultimately the effect is as discombobulating as it is enlightening: this profoundly bizarre spectacle should resonate equally with schoolchildren at weekday matinees and with thrill seekers trickling in on weekends.