Three Graces


(L-R): Newton Pittman as Michales and Mariana Newhard as Irini.
Photo by Alexander Karasev.

Reviewed: July 20, 2011
Venue: 3LD (NYC)
Producers: Immigrants' Theatre Project
Running Time: 90 minutes
July 20 - 23, 2011

Creative Team:
Libretto/Lyrics by Ruth Margraff
Music by Nikos Brisco
Directed by Marcy Arlin


Only rarely have I sat in the theatre and wished for a show to be over. Three Graces is now counted among them

Subtitled "A modern Iliad set in 1889 Crete at the end of the Ottoman Empire...Inspired by failed rebellion," Three Graces takes its narrative cue from the works of two Cretan writers, Nikos Kazantzakis and Vitzentzos Kornaros, as they write about the various rebellions Cretans enacted against their various occupiers, such as Venice and the Ottoman Empire.

Several elements made watching Three Graces difficult. The singers were not trained singers, the lyrics were mostly unintelligible (and those that could be discerned came across as poetically flat), the dialogue sounded like third-rate sword-and-sandals movies, and the direction was unfocused and the choreography clunky.

Not all was a loss. The projections were interesting (though not really tied in to the story), and the music had a Greek/Turkish/Middle-Eastern inflection to it that at least gave it a Zorba-like energy. I felt for the actors and the musicians, who all gamely tried to bring this inert material to life but, in the end, couldn't pull it off.

I was never sure during the performance what dramatic and moral question Ms. Margraff had in mind which Three Graces answered. It lacked the vitality and urgency that comes with dramatic pieces on the hunt. Perhaps as it goes through more workshops and performances it will discover that question, but right now it is not there.

Michael Bettencourt