SUBMISSION DATE: FEBRUARY 21, 2000
I am Woman, hear me roar. Hear me scream. Watch me turn the Oresteia on its ear… and then throw bloody tampons at Apollo.
The most amusing estrogen alliance since Kathy and Mo is back: playwright Kelly Stuart and director Kirsten Brandt. Together, they take no prisoners — unless they’re male. The demonic duo is up to some new tricks (last time it was all about breast milk, in the outrageous and unforgettable “Demonology”). This time out, it’s no less than the original dysfunctional family, the House of Atreus (as conceived by Aeschylus, 458BC and Euripides, 413BC) with its domestic violence of mythic proportion.
First, you may remember, King Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter, Iphigenia, to ensure his triumph over Troy. His queen, Clytemnestra, takes revenge by killing her husband. Their children, Electra and Orestes, subsequently kill their mother and her lover, Aegisthus, after which they are judged by the gods Apollo and Athena. To borrow a phrase, a bit more than kin and less than kind.
As Stuart and Brandt see it, in the patriarchal mythos, Clytemnestra has always gotten a raw deal, being treated as victim or bitch. This play aims to set things right, framing the action as a remembrance of things past by the beleaguered queen, who never gets over her husband’s murder of their firstborn. This makes her a thoroughly credible character.
This wickedly wild, feminist take on the tale is sometimes screechy, occasionally preachy, frequently provocative, amusing, inciting. It doesn’t always fly, but when it does, it soars. The 12-member cast is spotty, though Jill Drexler and Jessa Watson are quite fine as the older and younger queen, Tim West is a hoot as the gilded, fig-leafed Apollo, and Melissa Supera does a fiercely angry turn as Electra. Brandt makes wonderful, painterly use of the furies, who are statuesque tormentors and Greek chorus.
This is the old, brutal Sledge, straight up, with an estrogen twist. Stuart and Brandt are serving up furious blood. Drink up.
©2000 Patté Productions Inc.