Cupid and Psyche: An Allegory

Aphrodite, the goddess of Love, is threatened when she learns that mortal men have begun to worship a common mortal girl named Psyche who, they say, will not love. Aphrodite sends her son, Cupid, to kill the girl, but he becomes enamored of the one woman whose heart he cannot force.

Things turn dire, though, as Cupid's former lovers - Persephone and Adonis - arrive to remind Psyche of all...
Aphrodite, the goddess of Love, is threatened when she learns that mortal men have begun to worship a common mortal girl named Psyche who, they say, will not love. Aphrodite sends her son, Cupid, to kill the girl, but he becomes enamored of the one woman whose heart he cannot force.

Things turn dire, though, as Cupid's former lovers - Persephone and Adonis - arrive to remind Psyche of all the terrible things done in Passion's name. Enraged, Cupid silences them, snapping Adonis' neck - horrifying Psyche who curses the god of Lust to reveal his proper state, and send to Hell one half of all the lovers.

Now transformed into the Beast, Passion maims and kills. While Psyche's heart grows cold; hollow; proud and deathly - and the men who worship her begin to kill as well. Searching for a solution, Psyche's sisters seek out an Oracle, but find the Beast disguised. They tell him that if Psyche has a heart, it was stolen by their father. And Cupid, disguised, orders them to kill their father and leave Psyche to himself. The sisters do, but Persephone, arriving to claim their father's soul, reminds Passion that he cannot force a heart to love. Working to rid himself of the Beast, Cupid begs Psyche for her hand and she - determined to rid the world of Love - accepts. Surprised, when she finds his love is Tender.

In Hell, Adonis, still alive, is tormented by visions of his Love happy in his Heaven. While in that Heaven, Psyche struggles to let herself be loved - knowing all the unworthiness of them both. Aphrodite arrives in Hell, searching for Adonis and learns that Cupid killed him. She agrees to work with Persephone to return Cupid to his place, and with Adonis they separate the lovers, killing Psyche and dragging her to hell. Cupid, horrified, tries to save his mother's soul: making her see all the ways she twisted love and taught him, too, to twist it. But she cannot believe him and so Cupid leaves his mother and marches into Hell.

In Hades, Psyche wakes and sees the dead: learning that she was the last to live. For since Love abandoned earth, the world has crumbled into dust. Adonis gets Psyche to confess her love for Cupid, before handing her the Lethe to forget. Elsewhere, Cupid breaks open Hades' Gate, meeting Psyche's sisters who beg him for some kindness. He reunites them with their families, before collapsing: beginning to die himself. Adonis enters, and Cupid begs of him forgiveness. Persephone enters, and Cupid calls her by another name: "Mercy." A word which she rejects.

Leaving Cupid there, forever in the dark alone, they leave him. The world grows dark, and the god of Love expires - as...

A single lantern. And Psyche arrives, bearing the light, and beneath her skin: a child, too. She stumbles across her Love and slowly, her memories return. They see each other and in their embrace, transform the world to another Heaven, and a Garden they know well.
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Cupid and Psyche: An Allegory

Recommended by

  • Chris Rivera:
    18 Mar. 2021
    Emily's masterpiece. Every lover of verse and Greek Mythology should read. The language, the characters, the relationships are gorgeous. Haunting and hopeful.

Development History

  • Reading
    ,
    Barrett Players (Glasgow, Scotland)
    ,
    2019
  • Reading
    ,
    Turn to Flesh Productions
    ,
    2013
  • Reading
    ,
    The Factory Theatre
    ,
    2010
  • Workshop
    ,
    Emerson College
    ,
    2009

Production History

  • Workshop
    ,
    Turn to Flesh Productions
    ,
    2018
  • Workshop
    ,
    Turn to Flesh Productions
    ,
    2014

Awards

Finalist
,
Shakespeare's New Contemporaries
,
American Shakespeare Center
,
2018
Semi-Finalist
,
Princess Grace Foundation
,
Princess Grace Foundation
,
2009