Source Theatre, a young company that has specialized in traditional plays like Anton Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" and Eugene O'Neill's "The Long Voyage Home," begins its third year in an experiment.
"Persephone," which will run through Sunday, is formless improvisational theater. There are moments of touching emotion and frolicking humor. But it takes more than the playbill to sort out the players and follow the confusing scenes.
With no script, and minimal lighting and stage props, the young actors and actresses string together 24 scenes on the loose thread of the classical myth about Persephone, who was abducted to the underworld of Hades.
There are several levels of action: the myth; comic skits based on the myth; updated versions of the myth; a play being cast and staged by a director; and possibly several others if you can untangle them.
The result is a series of short scenes in which the young people in the company are given the opportunity to exercise their talents in what could be mistaken for acting warm-ups or tryouts. It's much like watching a ballet dancer doing her exercises at the dance bar.
For someone committed to the theater, there are rewards in watching some talented young people perform with energy and some flashes of immagination. The monologues, written by Linda Baker, offer a range of emotions; and Bart Whiteman, the director and founder of Source, keeps the action moving at a brisk pace.
Some of the humorous skits, including the scenes on different acting styles, are very funny indeed. But a series of erratic sketches won't make a satisfying evening for the average playgoer.
"Persephone" will be performed at 8:30 p.m. through Sunday at the Washington Project for the Arts, 1227 G St. NW.