FOUR-HOUR EXCURSION INTO A FANTASTIC WORLD

Theatergoers who attend the Storefront Theater production of the five-play Cuchulain cycle, dealing with the greatest hero of Celtic myth, encounter four hours of unusual and powerful drama. The plays, adapted over a span of 35 years from Celtic legends by William Butler Yeats, are performed in sequence with two intermissions. Each has been staged by a different Portland director, using a variety of theatrical styles.

The production for the opening drama, ``At the Hawk's Well'' (1917), was influenced by the modern Japanese butoh style of stagecraft. It is eerily effective. The second play, ``The Green Helmet'' (1910), is a farce played in a broad ``Marvel Comics'' style. The third play, ``On Baile's Strand'' (1904), written in an intentionally Shakespearean style, presents a portrait of the mature Cuchulain painted in epic proportions. The fourth work, ``The Only Jealousy of Emer'' (1919), is the sole production in the cycle that employs a Celtic setting, to project the work's grave and melancholy mood. The final production, ``The Death of Cuchulain'' (1939), uses modern dress and symbols from American Indian mythology to create a nonnaturalistic world and present the battle in which Cuchulain is slain.

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