The tone is set early on with a one-note trumpeter and a painted circus wall showing costumed Roman Gods Jupiter and his son Mercury with faces cut …
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The tone is set early on with a one-note trumpeter and a painted
circus wall showing costumed Roman Gods Jupiter and his son Mercury
with faces cut out for photographs. Forward on the stage, military
commander Amphitryon (Sam Gilstrap) is telling his loving wife
Alkmena (Gina Wencel) that he must go off to war, assuring her he
won’t be killed.
Thus begins “Amphitryon 38,” Jean Giradoux’s sophisticated and
comical take on an ancient legend, typical of the literate fare
Germinal Stage does so very well. The language and its delivery are
truly a treat.
Roman comic playwright Plautus , b. 254 BC, first told this tale
and it has been popular in various iterations through the
centuries, which explains Giradoux’ choice of the random number 38
for his title. (Plautus’ work is also the basis for the musical, “A
Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum”).
The war has been caused by the all-powerful Jupiter
(multi-talented Ed Baierlein) so, with Amphitryon absent, he can
visit Alkemena, who strikes him as the proper vessel to carry his
future son, Hercules. He will be disguised as Amphitryon so she’ll
never know, he tells Mercury, asking his help in making the
connection with her. He and Mercury (David Quinn), of the winged
feet, arrive on earth with a crash because Jupiter forgot about
gravity. Throughout, the playwright pokes fun at the sorts of
things an omniscient being should know.
“Amphitryon 38” proceeds with tongue firmly in cheek and Alkmena
really develops as the protagonist as she and Jupiter hold
philosophical discussions and she calls the shots. Wencel’s
performance is delightful to watch as she bounces sassy retorts off
the somewhat stuffy men in her life. A scheming, yet charming
Jupiter forgets important stuff and Quinn’s bouncy Mercury makes
fun of pretty much everyone. The pair of gods are rotund,
mustachioed gentlemen in spiffy costumes designed by Sally
There is a brief encounter with Leda (a funny, fierce Suzanna
Wellens), who has some past issues with Jupiter (think Leda and the
Swan) and wants to see what he really looks like, since he was a
swan when he seduced her— and she’d like another encounter! The old
mistaken identity ploy, used by playwrights through the ages, kicks
This is, unfortunately the final week to see this gem. Don’t
If you go:
“Amphitryon 38” by Jean Giraudoux (adapted by S.N. Behrman)
plays through June 13 at Germinal Stage Denver, 2450 W. 44th
Avenue, Denver. Performances: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 7 p.m.
Sundays. Tickets: $19.75 Fridays; $21.75 Saturdays; $17.75 Sundays.
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