Zeus in Therapy, onstage now at the Rollins Studio theater at the Long Center, is an original stage adaptation of the unpublished poems of Professor Douglass Stott Parker, the revered UT-Austin classicist. The stagework defies categorization, and is best described by its dynamic young director, Gary Jaffe, as "a unique theatrical experience."
Audiences thoroughly agree with director Jaffe. What they see on stage is anything but a play. Instead, nine actors portray different refractions of the divine mind of Zeus, the king of the gods, imagined as seeking help from a psychotherapist, who opens the show onstage reading Freud. The Zeuses, all of them, meet their first appointment with the therapist in the midst of a crackling electrical storm which they, of course, induced in an impressive display of vocal work and movement. The therapist survives it and gamely remains onstage for the full two-and-a-half hours, speaking, in sum, exactly one line the whole show: "Why don't you talk about why you feel so guilty?" All other spoken text in the show belongs to the Zeuses, mortals, and nymphs who populated his life story as gathered in Greek classical mythology.
Professor Parker culled the myths brilliantly and placed Zeus on the therapist's couch. In his professional academic life, he became known as a translator of classical plays, and some of his translations remain in publication and stage production in the English-speaking world. His Zeus in Therapy poems, however, remained unpublished in his lifetime. Tutto Theatre Company, with special permission from Parker's estate, adapted the poems for the stage. The result is an advanced course in classical mythology which goes down easily due to the screamingly funny bawdy humor with which Parker imbued the old tales. The stories (and stage presentation) give the modern world a huge dose of Zeus, from his vexing and hen-pecked marriage to Hera to his heart-wrenching love affair with Semele of Thebes. Theatre-goers leave feeling slightly titillated and also as if they know the ancient god much better than they did in high school.