“To mortal man, how great a scourge is love,” is one of countless ingenious lines that adorn “The Children” at the Theatre @ Boston Court. Michael Elyanow’s stunning riff on the Medea myth rips Euripides into current-day context, and rams its meanings into our brainpans.
Beginning before a Stygian drape that masks designer François-Pierre Couture’s jagged-wood set, an aptly named Man-In-Slacks and Woman-In-Sundress (Sonny Valicenti and Paige Lindsey White, both beyond praise) propel the action proper. Designer Susan Gratch’s striking life-sized puppets are lowered from above the proscenium, amid stormy noises from Veronika Vorel and John Zalewski’s sound plot, and the center pair becomes the imperiled offspring of Jason and Medea.
As Jaymi Lee Smith’s lighting hits surreal overdrive, a Woman of Corinth (the excellent Adriana Sevahn Nichols), flees the chorus and uses Medea’s book of spells to evacuate the children to Athens -- Athens, Maine, circa 2012, where hurricanes real and metaphoric are brewing.
One complication is the children’s Nurse (Jacqueline Wright, amazing as ever), who has piggybacked across the cosmos to protect her charges. The other is a modern-day Sheriff (the superb Daniel Blinkoff) who takes the grandiloquent Greeks to be Renaissance Faire celebrants. To specify further would diminish the profoundly layered fable that materializes.
Elayanow’s script, first hilarious, then chilling, is a breathtaking achievement. It certainly ignites the designers, including savvy costumer Tina Haatainen-Jones, and the impeccable cast. Valicenti and White selflessly inhabit their outer and inner children, Nichols and Wright meld classical aplomb to postmodern truth, and Blinkoff plays off all of them brilliantly.
Credit the real sorceress on hand: director Jessica Kubzansky, who maintains the tension, effects and reversals with unerring control. Her seamless work here is inspired, as is “The Children,” a must-see attraction and an instant classic.
“The Children,” Theatre @ Boston Court, 70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays. Ends June 10. (626) 683-6883 or www.bostoncourt.com. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes.