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Orestes

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Ellen Beckerman's revival of Charles Mee's "Orestes," his take on the drama of the same name by Euripides, turned the play into a postmodern interpretation of the Greek myth. With three actors playing all the characters, lines taken from contemporary magazines, and sudden shifts of time and place, "Orestes" was nontraditional in both form and presentation.

Rarely performed, Euripides' play is a sequel to his "Electra" and departs from the usual versions of the myth. After killing their mother and her lover, Orestes and Electra are condemned to death by the Argive court. However, they plot with Orestes' friend Pylades to kill Helen and kidnap her daughter Hermione in order to have a bargaining weapon. It is only due to the intervention of the god Apollo that the play has a happy ending. This version of the story eliminates Orestes' discovery of his sister Iphigenia in Tauris.

While James Saidy as Orestes, Margot Ebling as Electra, and Josh Conklin, subbing as Pylades for an indisposed Shawn Fagan, gave extremely intense performances, the play seemed to work overtime without involving the audience in the story's basic horror. The stylized movements and the actors suddenly appearing as other characters (e.g. Menelaus, Apollo, etc.) were disconcerting as well as confusing. Whereas Greek drama tends to be overwhelming in its catharsis, Mee's "Orestes" and Beckerman's production were more interested in their own cleverness than in coherence or clarity. For all the modern interpolations, the play did not seem more relevant to modern times than a realistic portrayal might have been.

Like Ken Goldstein's setting, the costumes by Amela Baksic were bland and antiseptic. The lighting by Michael O'Connor was serviceable without making any contribution of its own. Bray Poor's sound design was completely in keeping with the stylization of the production.

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