“99 Ways to Fuck a Swan” Presented by Washington Ensemble Theatre

Oh Leda! What allures you must have had. You remember Leda, don’t you? She was the Greek woman for whom Zeus transformed himself into a swan and then had his way with her. Depictions of their coupling are in museums around the world. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Correggio, Rubens, and many others including Cézanne have recorded their tryst, and now Washington Ensemble Theatre brings you an up-to-date stage version where Greek mythology tumbles into Renaissance history and winds up in oh-so contemporary American society.

If that sounds like a bit too much, it is . . . perhaps more than a bit too much, but within this all-encompassing jumble are some memorable elements. Some are funny, some touching, some intellectually rewarding. There’s a terrific take on a group therapy session, a tender opening up of two somewhat troubled individuals, more than one bizarre fetish, one of the most magnificent bodies you are likely ever to see, and a hilarious job interview with the managers of a website named “DVEnt.com”. I’ll leave it to you to determine what their mission was.

Written by Kim Rosenstock and directed by Ali Mohamed El-Gasseir, this encompassing exploration of deviance doesn’t include any sheep, but it has a whole lot more. Don’t come expecting smut, however. This is an erudite work performed by skilled actors.

The play announces itself as one that offers: frank discussions, hardcore honesty, scary reality, everyday ineptitude, nudity, and explicit sexual content. I think that pretty well sums it up. The play would, however, benefit from some judicious cutting, and though not all the elements fit together to create a seamless whole, this is fresh, risk taking theatre. You may well be offended by some of it. It is, after all an exploration of deviance with some sublime “normal” sex thrown in, but I guarantee there will be lots to think about after it’s over.

Through Oct. 12 at !2th Ave. Arts, 1620 12th Ave., Seattle, (206 325-1505 or washingtonensemble.org).

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