Spend an evening with the gods in Zion Theatre Company’s production of “Prometheus Unbound,” showing now through July 27 at The Echo Theatre in Provo.
Written by local, award-winning playwright Mahonri Stewart, the play unfolds as a band of mythical Greek gods join forces to free the bound and tortured titan, Prometheus — who was punished by Zeus for being a champion of mankind. The play’s theme, in keeping with Stewart’s past works, draws subtle parallels to traditional Christian beliefs.
“It’s along the lines of looking at Greek mythology through kind of a Christian perspective,” said Stephen Geis, who plays the doubting hero/god Erysichthon in the play. “Something that I’ve always found interesting is finding similarities between religions and cultures, because they have a lot of common.”
“The central metaphor in this story is Prometheus’ character, who is a type and shadow of Christ,” said “Prometheus Unbound” director Sarah-lucy Hill. “Prometheus is different than the rest of the Grecian gods in that he sacrifices and suffers for mankind.”
In Greek mythology, Prometheus is credited with having created man, and angers Zeus by stealing fire from the gods to give to humanity, which furthers their progression. Prometheus is sentenced to a thousand years of torment for this theft and is chained to a rock, where each day an eagle feeds on his liver, only to have it grow back and be eaten again the next day. Thus the myth’s allegorical correlation to Christianity.
But Hill, who also plays the role of Phoebe in the play — the Delphic who organizes the circle of Greek heroes — added that “Prometheus” is also just a rousing-good adventure story along the lines of, say, “The Avengers.” Except these superheroes wear togas.
“It’s an adventure story about a bunch of heroes that go on a quest,” said Hill. “Phoebe has a vision that she’s supposed to free Prometheus, so she gathers a group of heroes, and they must overcome all these obstacles on their path to free him.”
Other mythical gods portrayed in the play include Zeus, the king of the gods; Aphrodite, the goddess of love; Hermes, messenger of the gods; Artemis, the huntress; and Heracles (better known as Hercules). While some might find it hard to relate to these lightning-throwing Greek gods, Hill said the audience will find something to relate to in the characters themselves — who who are very flawed, possessing jealousies, tempers and shortcomings — and in the struggles they face.
“I think the audience will very strongly relate to the characters, because they’re very human and the things they go through are very relatable, she said. “The story is about hope, and these characters are learning to have hope even as they are experiencing and overcoming adversity.”