‘Leto Legend’ at Hub Theatre

Valerie Fenton leads an all-woman cast as a super mom, super employee, and superhero in Leto Legend by Kristen LePine.

Depicting the dual character of Charlie/Leto, Fenton, a founding member of the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company in Baltimore, ably shows how the mythical and modern collide in this comedy about today’s superwoman.

Valerie Fenton stars as Charlie in Leto Legend, presented by the hub theatre. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Valerie Fenton (Charlie). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Can she do it all? “Not at once”, as my Mom told me long ago.

Said Director and Artistic Director Helen Pafumi, “Today it is expected that a person is accomplished in school, work, volunteerism, health and hobbies. On top of that, he or she must also be a superb parent. This standard seems to be most acutely felt by women and is, without a doubt, impossible.”

Charlie, the human side of the character, struggles to balance her home and work responsibilities. Her daughter Diana (Katie Jeffries) has a lacrosse game and a role in the school play, but her boss, Meredith (Lolita Marie), wants a storyboard for her graphic novel by 5 p.m. Meanwhile, her ever-present fans in the blogosphere want to know why she’s not at Comic Con and what has really happened to her main character, who happens to be . . .

. . . Leto, the superhero side of Fenton’s character. Based on the Greek goddess of motherhood, she has recently given birth to twins and is battling the jealous Hera (Carolyn Kashner, who also portrays Nike Jones, Charlie’s fan and blogger) for control of her island and its people and custody of the newborns. But Leto’s superhero powers have left her.

Carolyn Kashner is sublime as Hera in Leto Legend. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Carolyn Kashner (Hera). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

“It felt like a muscle. Something I could flex. But, now nothing. Just a void. A terrible void.”  Nonetheless, her all-too-human fight scene with Hera (directed by Cliff Williams III) was badass.

A highlight of the show is Fenton’s quick dialog with co-comic book writer Maia (Audrey Bertaux), a snide upstart who wants to take her job. Playwright LePine was commissioned by The Hub Theatre and the show has been in development for five years. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Humboldt State University.

The chorus features lovely singing by Katie Nigsch, who doubles as Charlie’s sensitive, sensible sister, Alex. The chorus provides an opening akin to a Gregorian chant and comments on the action in short, enjoyable interludes throughout the performance.

The set by Robbie Hayes is composed of two stairways curving up to a platform. Vertical surfaces are faced with stretchy fabric onto which phantasmagorical projections are shown by Patrick Lord. The actors stick their hands and faces into the fabric from behind to make the moving dioramas more three-dimensional. At one point, Fenton reaches into the fabric from the front and manipulates some machine-like parts. Props are by Suzanne Maloney. The rich soundscape by Matthew Nielson ranges from the alarming roar of a dragon to a kitten’s mew, and also includes superhero power-up noises and the blips and bleeps of incoming instant messages. Dramatic lights are by Jonathan Alexander. Super-versatile costumes are by Deb Sivigny.

Katie Nigsch is a standout in the chorus and sensitively portrays Charlie’s sister Alex in Leto Legend. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Katie Nigsch (Alex) and the cast of ‘Leto Legend). Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

It is amusing to watch the sensitive Fenton depict her dual characters as she struggles to achieve greatness, fails, and redefines her idea of success. Somehow, it left me feeling relieved, like I don’t have to do it all, but empowered, as if there might still be a way.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

Leto Legend plays through August 2, 2015 at The Hub Theatre performing at the John Swayze Theatre at The New School of Northern Virginia – 9431 Silver King Court, in Fairfax, VA. Purchase tickets online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1531.gif

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