With such an intriguing title – Are You There, Zeus? It’s Me, Electra – I had hoped for a wickedly sly, contemporary, satirical takeoff on the Sophoclean tragedy Electra. As adapted (loosely and limply) by Aliza Shane who unfortunately has opted to direct her new tragicomedy cartoon version (that seems to want to be a musical) as well and partially choreograph and partially design costumes my wishes went unfulfilled. Partially doesn’t cut it.
Although there are some excellent ideas, they just don’t go far enough to make this ninety minute play about perhaps one of the very first extremely dysfunctional families work as well as it could.
A shrill and shrieking sixteen year old Electra (Sierra Marcks) is out for revenge, wailing and wishing that Zeus hear her plea for help. Her mother Clytemnestra (here played with comic ruthlessness by a man – Cas Marino) has murdered her father Agamemnon and married the youthful and dimwitted Aegisthus (James David Larson). But she has to wait for her brother Orestes (Timothy Mele) to do the honors of killing mom and step-dad (after all she is only a powerless woman) while putting up with her effervescent and eternally happy sister Chrysothemis (a pert and chirpy Kerri Ford).
All the while the Greek chorus of four mismatched young ladies (Felicia Blum, Carley Colbert, Kate Dickinson and Ashley Lovell) wearing matching red toga like creations egg Electra on to do the dreaded deed herself. A woman empowerment agenda seems to be key as they make what are supposed to be comic asides (that fall flat) as they gesticulate and move about the stage like some spastic modern dancers.
The oh so serious and broadly acted Orestes (in the manner of Maxwell Smart) does arrive but pretends to be a stranger in Argos along with his buddy Pylades (a fine David Michael Brown who somehow balances the varying styles on view). Together they plan and plot. Electra plans and plots. As does sexy mama and her young King. But with all the plans and plotting Zeus still doesn’t answer Electra and it is a very long and winding road to the final bloody tableau.
Are You There, Zeus? It’s Me, Electra is part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity benefiting the Children’s Cancer and Blood Foundation. At 45 Bleecker Street.
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