Monday, September 24, 2012

Plot Profusion: Nimbus Theater's "The Gold Ass" delivers a multi-layered story about a man who turns into a donkey, and back again


Liz Neerland’s adaptation of Apuleius’ The Gold Ass, now showing at the Nimbus Theater in Northeast Minneapolis, brings the ancient into today.
A story within a story within a story (and so on),The Gold Ass is a bit like a mythological live version of Inception. As the show progresses, viewers are taken into multiple layers of fables and true events, all of which tie back into a single campfire story about one man’s experiences after being turned into a donkey by a witch.
Some of the events the man proceeds to relate about his journey before becoming a man again include falling in with robbers, listening to old women read, being celebrated as a hero, and finding salvation from a goddess. Each story is brief and delightfully human, creating a very accessible tale.
As the Ass and main narrator Lucius, Joel Raney does a fine job. His donkey mimicry is uncanny, and his gently lolling pacing is an easy usher through The Gold Ass’ multiple plots.
The ensemble cast does a great job of rotating through multiple roles, narratives and costumes with equal panache. They have a great chemistry, and their enthusiasm (and sometimes sarcasm) brings a friendly warmth to The Gold Ass.
The handmade, customized costumes and sets are also lovely, and very creative. In particular, the Ass’ ensemble, fashioned out of a hoodie and repurposed walking canes, was an ingenious bit of stage magic. The set is a soft, rolling panorama of an idyllic countryside, with inky towns in the distance and watercolor fields close by, and it is a bit reminiscent of the Lemony Snickett book covers.
The Gold Ass is a charming production, and audiences of any ilk can find something to enjoy, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon full of ancient fables and good stories.
+ The Nimbus Theater’s The Gold Ass continues through May 20. For more information visitnimbustheater.com.