The Gods of Comedy Character Profiles

ARISTIDE
A local Greek salesman of colorfully embellished trinkets on the island of Naxos where he lives with his family. He knows everyone and everything that happens on his island, and serves as an omniscient introductory narrator to the story.

ARISTIDE
Miss, please. I know everything that happens on my island kingdom. You are a Classics professor from the United States. You are here leading students for the summer, but you study too hard, you do not join them on their happy excursions. In addition, you worry too much, you lack confidence, and your mother is very concerned about you.

DAPHNE
Well that’s not true.
(Ring! Her cellphone rings.)
Hello, mother.
(Act 1, Scene 1)

DAPHNE RAIN
A young and esteemed American Classics professor from a liberal arts university. She is a passionate Hellenic scholar, currently working to mount a production of Euripides’ Medea as part of her Tenure Folio. Hiding behind her bookishness, hesitation, and self-imposed isolation, Daphne has a fiercely independent spirit and is on the verge of the adventure of her lifetime.

DAPHNE
For over two thousand years, Euripides’ play Medea has been a source of controversy, and for some she is an icon of modern feminism. Though Medea’s revenge for her husband’s betrayal is awful by any moral standard, she is still admired for her strength in the face of her intense suffering, and her tragedy is reflected in her language, as when she cries:

(She starts small, but her passion grows as she recites the words until, by the end, she is a tiger with a spotlights shining down on her:)

Death! Death! Death is my desire for myself and my children.
O how I wish that I might see Jason and his accursed bride 
In utter ruin for all the wrongs that they have done me!
O Vengeance!                       
(Act 1, Scene 2)

DEAN TRICKETT
The Dean of the Classics Department at the university where Daphne teaches is a lusty 55-year-old “force of nature.” Hailing from England, her hearty gusto and “full throated laugh” simply can’t be tamed. She is staunchly passionate about her work and will do whatever it takes to see that the study of Classics is preserved and appreciated by the next generation.

DEAN
Exactly. That’s what scholarship is. You don’t give up, you keep looking and thinking. Now listen to me. As you know, this is Alumni Weekend, and simply everyone will be here this year. [...] Now I wouldn’t normally rush into this, but we have all the major donors here. And think of the message this conveys to the world: it says “We are the humanities. We are the lifeblood of education and we’re not going anywhere.”
(Act 1, Scene 3)

RALPH SARGENT
Thirty-five year-old Hellenistic studies rising-star who has just been hired as the new head of the Classics Department with Daphne and the Dean. He is work-obsessed, bursting with energy, and on the hunt for a ‘lost’ Euripides play, a find which could make his career and change the course of theater history.

RALPH
I’m on the trail of a new [Euripides play], which is why I need help.

DAPHNE
A whole new play?

RALPH
No, no. I wish. A play. But I have a lead on a fragment, and nobody’s found more than a line of Euripides in a hundred years.

DAPHNE
What play is it from?

RALPH
Andromeda. It was written in

DAPHNE
412 BC. Aristophanes talks about it, but it was lost.

RALPH
Exactly. But we do know a great deal about it. We know that it started with Andromeda chained to a rock as a human sacrifice. Ovid tells the story, and he says, quote:
At this moment, the hero Perseus,
Slayer of the Gorgon, flew across the sky,
And at the sight of Andromeda on the watery cliff,
Her body white and naked from foam,
Her arms in chains that cut her flesh like knives,
Sending rivers of blood across the marble of her
Arching back, he fell in love.

DAPHNE
(her voice rough)
Whoa.
(Act 1, Scene 1)

ALEKSI
Loveable university custodian with a deep appreciation for ancient culture and art. He is a jovial Russian émigré with Homeric dreams of learning Greek himself and one day being a Classics professor.

ALEKSI
Now that would be something. Just imagine studying the words and learning to read it, perhaps in Greek. That is my dream.

DAPHNE
It is?

ALEKSI
This is job. I am proud to have it and perform it well, but some day I want to be your colleague and sit in that chair and smoke a pipe. I will be teacher and scholar all in one. But for now I will keep my steady job and come back to clean this room when you are not so busy.
(Act 1, Scene 2)

DIONYSUS
Celebrated Greek god of wine, fertility, revelry, and misrule incarnated here as a God of Comedy on a mission from his father Zeus. Lover of all things boisterous, anarchic and ecstatic, Dionysus is particularly thrilled to discover all the indulgences a twenty-first century college campus has to offer him.

DIONYSUS
Holy Poseidon, this kingdom is dazzling! What do you call it again?

DAPHNE
College.

DIONYSUS
Smoking, drinking, fornicating. Who invented this place?

DAPHNE
I thought the ancient Greeks had universities.

DIONYSUS
Not like this they didn’t.
(Act 1, Scene 3)

THALIA
Ancient Greek muse of comedy and idyllic poetry, now Dionysus’s partner in comedic crime from Mt. Olympus. Thalia is a positivist who doesn’t get caught up in the details. Although she is not exactly “the sharpest sword in the armory” she makes up for it with self-confidence. She has a happy-go-lucky spirit and an “Achilles heel” of crushing hard and fast on attractive male mortals.  

THALIA
Isn’t he cute? I mean you gotta hand it to these mortals. They know the train is comin’ down the tracks and soon it’s gonna be whamo bamo, but they keep striving and pushing and doin’ their best. I mean penicillin, come on, good job. They’re kinda like human palimpsests, ya know what I mean? They’ve got layers and layers, and there’s so much stuff goin’ on underneath that sometimes the other guy’s gotta work hard to find it…
(Act 2, Scene 3)

ARES
The Greek God of War who is loud, intimidating, quick to be aggressive, and physically no match for opposing mortals. Brutish and demanding, he does not play around when it comes to satiating himself with whatever his momentary desire might be.

ARES
Do not provoke me, wretched headstrong girl
Or in my immortal rage I will burn thy Spirit into
Clay and nothingness!
(Sniff. Sniff sniff)
What land is this? It smells of mortal toil.

DIONYSUS
It is called College, Brutality, and it is filled with unanticipated joys of the flesh.

ARES
Then I will go explore it. But do not leave this place until I return, I HAVE NOT FINISHED WITH YOU!
(Act 1, Scene 3)

BROOKLYN DE WOLFE
Former Grade-A student scholar turned world-class movie star; she is a big deal at her alma mater. Charming and alluring with a smile that “makes you believe in God,” she knows how to smooth-talk herself into the next big movie without missing a beat.

BROOKLYN
Think of all the movies that are based on books like this. It’s like The Lord of the Rings. And oh my God what a part for the right actress. Andromeda. Chained to a rock to save her country. The sea monster coming at any moment, its teeth bared, its tail lashing.

(playing Andromeda for all she’s worth)

“If the Gods allow, let the serpent have its way with me, let it rise up from the depths of the ocean and penetrate this cave of mine where I wait in defiance of its cruelty and wrath.
But hear me, Gods in Heaven, hear me I beg you! Let my suffering mean something to this world of ours! Let it make a difference! Let it save my people!”

(her eyes well up)

Sorry, it just… it moves me even when I think about it.
(Act 1, Scene 3)

March 12–31, 2019

Ken Ludwig’s The Gods of Comedy

Directed by Amanda Dehnert

McCarter favorite Ken Ludwig (Baskerville, Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express) is back with a hilariously divine new play filled with madcap mayhem, a touch of romance, and lots of laughs.

MORE INFO