“Heavier Than” debuts at BC’s Stop Gap Theater

“Heavier Than” is a tragedy inspired by ancient Greek mythology and set in the Labyrinth of the Minotaur. The Theater Arts department of Bellevue College has done an amazing job of adapting this story of expectations and fate.

Patrick McGee stars as Asterius, the Minotaur of the Labyrinth, a lonely soul whose myth has only ever been told from the hero’s side. Asterius has lived in the Labyrinth since his second birthday, and cannot leave. However, every seven years on Asterius’s birthday, seven Athenian warriors descend into the Labyrinth to slay Asterius. The story joins Asterius on the eve of his thirtieth birthday, where a dream has given him optimism about a visit from someone special to him. Asterius’s life is governed by the Fates, but he is ready to throw aside his destiny to become the best man he can. Unfortunately, change is never easy for someone with giant bull horns sprouting from their head.

At first blush, McGee’s minotaur seems more like a teen heartthrob than a 30 year old veteran of violence. However, initial appearances are deceiving, and McGee easily transforms himself into Asterius. This minotaur is not a monster, but a fallible man who seeks change in his life and questions his destiny. As Asterius is systematically deceived by all of those close to him, McGee shows us how a broken man might rebuild himself and challenge the future set before him by the gods and his birth.

Asterius is joined by the immortal trio of the Fates, played by a chorus of Willow Rae, Sarah Dullanty and Jenn Loschen. The witty repartee between the Fates themselves and their ability to snap back into synchronicity without skipping a beat made them an excellent partner to McGee’s more grounded minotaur. A constant presence above the stage, they are at times detached from the mortal plight; however, they also show that they have come to care about Asterius and his situation. The actresses brought a lot of charisma to the role, and it was fun watching them work together.

The supporting cast members suited their roles well. Icarus, portrayed by Schuyler Garfield, is both selfish and loving. His entire character is self-destructive and unapologetic, but capable of genuinely caring about those precious to him. Garfield’s delivery is strong, with tension and humor both springing from the flighty personality of Icarus. The young Ariadne, a princess who must make a difficult choice, is portrayed by Haylee Farrell. Her character felt more modern Disney than ancient Greece, but still believable in her circumstances. Kara Sepanta was Pasiphae, the mother of the minotaur. Sepanta commanded an air of unapologetic regality every time Pasiphae entered the scene. Their royal pedigree was certain. It was a joy watching each actor interact and elevate their scenes.

Tammis Doyle, chair of Theater Arts, directed the production, and her work in bringing out the best in all of her players is evident. Her actors and actresses did not simply read from their memories. Everyone on stage took part in a great conversation, and it takes outstanding leadership to make that happen.

Michael Brandt, the technical director, has designed a brilliant and fun set. When entering the room, one is greeted by the voices of the chorus of Fates and a facsimile of a large stone wall. Two corridors along the sides of the room end in blackness and fog. The corridors turn and open into a beautiful stage that is unmistakably the center of the labyrinth. The minotaur dwells here.

It is important to note that “Heavier Than” deals with very dark tones and themes. The minotaur does not control his rage, and those triggered by physical abuse must be forewarned.

“Heavier Than” gives new perspective to a story that was written before the bible, but it is the work of the Theater Arts department that brought it to life. From comedic timings to emotional monologues, mystical set pieces and incredible costuming, everything on display in the Stop Gap theater is a wonderful experience. The Bellevue College Theater Arts should be proud of their work, and anyone who enjoys theater will find enjoyment in the halls of the Labyrinth.