2 Act play with music; based on Picano’s novella, An Asian Minor
Set in Ancient Ionia
produced Off-Off Broadway, 1986
Eight characters: seven male, one female
A comedic dramatization in two acts, originally staged with music and dancing, the play is based on Felice Picano's 1981 best-selling novella, An Asian Minor: The True Story of Ganymede.
The Roman poet Ovid wrote, in The Metamorphoses, how the most beautiful mortal ever born was carried off by Zeus, the king of the Gods, to be immortal. This play updating tells the story from Ganymede's own down-to-earth point of view. He's an ordinary, dirty, mischief and sex-loving boy, one of dozens of children in the King of Troy's extended family, when one day at court his teenage beauty is discovered by royal visitors, almost leading to a war.
Astonished, Troas, the king, calls for a soothsayer who omens enigmatically about the boy, telling how he will gain the gods' attention, and concluding that Ganymede "will never not be." Already used to trouble with horny, manipulative gods and their seldom welcome attention, his father sends the boy away from town and into the country with his yes-man, Polycleites, an amateur mathematician who keeps trying to disprove Ganymede's physical perfection. There the boy is nearly seduced by the fastest talking runner/skateboarder on earth, a guy with a command of languages and a spiel like none other: Speedy, i.e. the god Mercury. But Ganymede is no slouch and he manages to outmaneuver the god of cunning. The results back home are comic-tragic communication screw-ups for weeks.
Troas next sends the boy into the army to work at a blacksmith's forge, where his looks will soon be covered in soot. But every man he meets falls for Ganymede, including the generals, and their top hero, the short-tempered leather-master, Spike-- the god Mars in a human body. Spike too becomes infatuated and goes into a deep depression once Ganymede rejects him too. The result is a strike of the armed forces just when they are needed, and a near disaster.
Troas is tearing out his hair. Next he hides the boy in his women's quarters, dressed like a girl, where Ganymede first has fun toughening up the girls, especially his athletic cousin, Atlanta, then he begins to get bored. But an egotistical, allegedly hetero, rock-star named Sunny suddenly appears, to sweep the women off their feet with his vainglory, his hypnotic music and his way-out ideas. Included in the attempted seduction is of course Ganymede, since Sunny turns out to be the god Apollo. After a tour of the cosmos, Ganymede nixes him too.
With three rejected gods in high dudgeon, now there's real trouble in Troy.
What can a besieged king do? He exiles Ganymede, who finds himself in a forest preserve with a handsome older gamekeeper named Rex. Their brief romantic idyll comes to an end when Troas's soldiers arrest Ganymede and drag him back to Troy. The soothsayer has decrypted a message from the king of the gods, who wants the boy for himself. Only one way to send Ganymede to heaven --a primitive electric chair is hooked up, and the most beautiful boy in the word is about to become, in his own words, "some dopey god's barbecue!" when there is, literally, a Deus Ex Machina to save the boy -- and the day.
Immortal shows not only how the boy hooks the "main sugar daddy" he's been holding out for, but also how he fulfills his unusual destiny.
The Meridian Gay Theatre production used Soul Music and MTV style dance to further keep the story current and hip. All sets and costumes were contemporary, and with so many scene changes, the sets were few, small and totally movable, leading to many creative uses. The stage manager did much of the work in view of the audience, he occasionally commented on the action, took bows, and in the end was utilized by Troas to test out the effectiveness of the electric chair -- much to the audience's delight. Toward the end of Immortal's extended Off-Broadway run, a general audience, from only a few reviews and terrific word of mouth, had replaced the early all-gay audience.