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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 4, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 22
Elektra a funny look at the Greek tragedy
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Elektra a funny look at the Greek tragedy

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Elektra
Macha Monkey Productions
Through June 18


Macha Monkey is celebrating its 10th year of 'funny, fearless, female' productions by reprising their original adaptation of the ancient Greek classic story, Electra. However, this version, titled Elektra, is probably nothing like you'd ever imagine an adaptation would be.

This hour-long encapsulation is almost more a parody than an adaptation. Desiree Prewitt and Kristina Sutherland, founders of Macha Monkey and adapters of this play, pull out the full funny for this production. They update Elektra and her family to contemporary times, making them into a family whose intense weirdness brings down the property values in their neighborhood.

Kate Jaeger and Erin Stewart portray all the characters, starting with two gossipy workout friends at the local fitness club. They deliver some of the funniest exposition you're likely to hear as they detail how Elektra stands in her driveway all day doing strange rituals because she's hoping her missing brother will come home.

They also morph into Elektra and her sister Chrysothemis ('Call me Chrissie!' she cries. 'I can't even pronounce that!') fighting with each other, as Chrissie encourages Elektra to move on from thinking that their mother, Clytemnestra, killed daddy. And Jaeger morphs from Chrissie into Clytemnestra, the powerful, overbearing mother who has had it with her daughter's histrionics.

Stewart and Jaeger are pitch-perfect in their wildly different characters, both very at home with sketch comedy. And it's inspiring to watch them work hard at it.

It's probably useful to know the basic Greek story of Electra: Electra's father is King Agamemnon, who is murdered by either Clytemnestra's lover or by her. Clytemnestra blamed him for the murder of their eldest daughter, Iphegenia. Electra is distraught over the loss of her father and hopes her exiled brother, Orestes, will return and help her avenge his death. It's all pretty grim, and usually played as a great tragedy.

This parody wonders what would happen if Orestes never showed up and goes forth accordingly. There are glimpses of great tragic emotion that peek through the production. It makes the funny even funnier, and keeps the audience on their toes, listening hard to make sure they don't miss anything.

There is an interesting traveling set design by Robin Macartney that consists of mostly stage flats mounted on turning joints so that the scenic sides can be revealed, changing a location visually, and then faced perpendicularly away from the audience. Sound design by Scotto Moore is a crucial (and also sometimes funny) support to the scene-change moments, as the actors run off stage to change a bit of costuming for different characters. It's a very minimal production that looks like it could go to local colleges easily.

For more information, go to www.machamonkey.org or http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/171106, or call 800-838-3006.

Discuss your opinions at sgncritic@gmail.com.

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Elektra a funny look at the Greek tragedy
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