Long before there were vampires and werewolves, there was Grendel, the legendary monster who terrorizes the land in Beowulf
, the earliest extant epic poem in the English language. So right off the bat we have a conundrum. Any eighth-century story that's still around is by definition a classic, but it's also old real old. How do you engage young people in such an archaic ode? Simple. You have it dramatized by Metro Theater Company, the St. Louis-based touring ensemble that serves as an ambassador for our fair city around the nation. In Carol North's wildly inventive staging, which only uses three actors, a single, seemingly inanimate wooden unit comes to astonishing life to sweep the viewer into a world of land and sea and sky beyond conventional imagining. Why is Metro such a remarkable children's theater company? Is it because they're not afraid to treat children as adults? Or is it because they're equally determined to treat adults as children? Whatever the equation, Metro's Beowulf
was an event of dazzling theatricality for audiences of all ages.