Immortality can provide quite a perspective on the world. Having experienced over 2,500 birthdays, Aspasia, played by Allie Jessing certainly has a lot to tell us in Hetaira: A Mythic Cabaret. Using stories built upon familiar, yet wide-ranging mythologies, Jessing tells a coming-of-age story for someone who simply can not age, giving a unique performance that provides laughs with spellbinding musical entertainment.
Our heroine, Aspasia begins by informing the audience of her age, whilst glugging wine at the unsociable pre-noon hour of the performance. She notes that during her time, the water was often not potable, and drinking wine provided the safer option to water. This crumb of knowledge regarding the time period sets the tone of the performance. Jessing does well to keep not only within her character, but also within the period for which she portrays. The performance spans several different time periods and genres, from ancient Greek, to Norse mythology, then onward to the middle ages, and even to the Victorian age of sexy vampires. During each time period, she performs her cabaret skillfully by using the traditional costume, language, and style of the relevant zeitgeist. The story also holds together well, and weaves in a love story with her Norse lover, played by Stephanie Babirak. Like most immortals, relationships will ultimately be fleeting as your companion ages whilst you remain. This drive to find her lost love becomes the endmost goal of Aspasia.
Whilst the show may feel niche and focused to those more attracted to the classical stories from which it derives, the performance should resonate with a wider audience. It feels a bit like a Forest Gump that stretches beyond typical Americana, and allows for wider penetration into most known history. It also cleverly uses sexuality and feminism into a story that can keep with a modern audience, whilst also giving respect to the past. The musical performances alone also show the wide range of talent of Jessing, as she sings in multiple languages using dance and ancient instruments. Truly, this hour represents a triumph of creativity, weaved through a freshly told story of modern meets mythology.