November 17 through the 20, La Quinta High’s very own B.E.S.T. Productions presented their fall performance The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less.
In about 99 minutes, the hilarious and talented cast acted out all the Greek mythologies in an entertaining and fast-paced way, beginning with the Creation and ending with one of the most well-known stories in Greek history, “The Odyssey”.
The show opened with a nonchalant Zeus, Teagan Lugo (12), strolling onto the stage and welcoming the audience in a relaxed manner. He began the ninety-nine minute time limit by turning over an hourglass, but was interrupted by Hera, Leah Juarez (12), who stressed the importance of beating the time constraint for the audience’s enjoyment.
The first few seconds of the show set the energetic and fast-paced tone that was constant throughout the entire production. Act I continued with the creation of the world followed by a red carpet procession of the Gods, bickering between the couple of Man and Pandora, and a few mythologies. Next was the Iliad between the Greeks and Trojans, which was characterized by inconsequential disagreements, sissy-boy slap fights, and even a few musical numbers narrated by Thespian President Syd Styler (12).
“This production is unique because of the rushed nature of the show which creates wonderful comedic timing and the multiple opportunities for audience participation,” stated Director Britt Pannell. One of the highlights of the performance was the noticeable audience participation moment when Zeus flirted with an attractive woman in the audience who he called Semele and a jealous Hera instructed her to ask for him to swear his love by the River Styx and reveal himself in his godly form. The audience member was then taken on stage and dressed in a costume by the chorus girls before trying her hand at acting by dying a slow and painful death to “thunderous applause”. Audience member Pam Burton was the lucky woman chosen during Thursday night’s performance. “I was so surprised,” said the special needs aid from Palm Desert. “It was something I had never done before but it was really fun to be involved.”
After intermission, the clock was started once again, and although the plot of Act II was less random than Act I, it was filled with just as many hilarious antics and even more character development. After a game-show style presentation of some of the most note-worthy love stories in Greek Mythology the audience’s ears were filled with a familiar tune and the energetic introduction of “Greek Hero Idol” with Olympus’s most popular judges: Aphrodite- Daryne Romero (12), Zeus, and Hera. After many valiant contenders competed to win the title of the most courageous Greek hero, Odysseus, played by Quentin Garcia (12), was crowned the winner and asked to explain his story, “The Odyssey”.
The journey, which chronicled Odysseus’s attempts to return home after his conquest in “The Iliad”, was one of the most entertaining aspects of the play. From seductresses and a Cyclops encounter to adventures in The Land of the Dead, Odysseus and his men struggled to get home for 10 years. The tale, which is required reading at the freshman English level, is one of the most well-known Greek stories and is usually told in a more dull and uninteresting way. However, for cast member Kaylee Rodriguez (9) the play helped her “understand ‘The Odyssey’ better and make it more relatable”. Once Odysseus returns home, he battles the suitors courting his wife Penelope, Alexandra Beltran (11), and annoying his son Telemachus, Sam Folkes (11), and resumes his reign over the kingdom of Ithaca.
“We’ve had wonderful audiences, but it’s been crazy- especially Friday night, “revealed Pannell. On that night of the play, Riego Mamicpic (9) fell off a flight of stairs and sprained his ankle, while lead Quentin Garcia separated his shoulder, paramedics. Garcia returned to the show on Saturday after tending to his injury supported in a Velcro harness.
“The play was very funny because of all the literary and historical allusions,” commented English teacher and community actress Stephanie Smith, “I loved seeing all of the beautifully costumed students have their well-deserved moment in the spotlight”. The production left the audience completely satisfied and only asking for one thing- an encore.