Author Archive for: ‘KedarAdour’

Mourning does not become ELEKTRA at ACT.


L to R: René Augesen as Elektra, Olympia Dukakis as the Chorus Leader, and Allegra Rose Edwards as Chrysothemis in Sophocles’ Elektra. Photo by Kevin Berne.

ELEKTRA: Sophocles’ Greek Tragedy. A new translation by Olivier Award–winning playwright Timberlake Wertenbaker. Directed by Carey Perloff, American Conservatory Theatre (ACT), A.C.T.’s Geary Theater, 415 Geary Street, San Francisco. 415-749-2228 or October 25 – November 18, 2012

Mourning does not become ELEKTRA at ACT.

The Greeks have invaded both sides of Bay Bridge with Berkeley Rep extending their run of the brilliant An Iliad and American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) mounting an adaptation of Sophocles’s Elektra that had its world premiere in 2010 at the Getty Villa outdoor theater in Los Angeles. ACT artistic director Carey Perloff directed the world premiere and has redirected the present staging bringing along local favorite Olympia Dukakis from the LA production.

The connection between Homer’s Iliad and Sophocles’ and Elektra is temporal. The Greek king Agamemnon has sacrificed his youngest daughter Iphigenia to the gods in exchange for a favorable wind to bring back his ships from the siege of Troy. His wife Clytemnestra (Caroline Lagerfelt) and her lover Aegisthus (Steven Anthony Jones) have murdered Agamemnon. The young son Orestes (Nick Steen), who would be a threat to the throne that Aegisthus has usurped, has been sent away to safety with his Tutor (Anthony Fusco). Elektra (Renee Augesen) and her sister Chrysothemis (Allegra Rose Edwards) have remained with their increasingly paranoid mother Clytemnestra. Whereas Chrysothemis is resigned to her fate, Elektra openly and often mourns the death of her father and seeks revenge.

Years have intervened but revenge remains paramount in the minds of Orestes, his best friend Pylades (Titus Tompkins) and the Tutor. The trio plan to arrive in disguise to kill Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. The deed gets done. End of play.

Although a few of the audience spontaneously arose to applaud the actors, the majority remained seated politely applauding and on exit did not exhibit the usual enthusiasm after seeing an Olympia Dukakis performance. The chorus in a Greek drama is extremely important since they unite the past, present and predict an ominous future. Dukakis makes her entrance from the aisle, to spend the major portion of the evening standing around while the action proceeds. She does not demonstrate her usual command of the stage and much of the time used excessive arm flaying.

Then too, the superb multitalented Augesen seemed to be emoting rather than acting as she groveled much of the time on the floor. Her quality acting did not project and this probably was the fault of the directing, translation and adaptation. For this concept production the set (Ralph Funicello) was a city slum area with a metal chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire extending across the full length of the stage with debris scattered about.

Caroline Lagerfelt & Rene Augesen

The finest performance is given by Caroline Lagerfelt. Her depiction of the arrogant paranoid Clytemnestra was regal and chilling conveying the treachery that is her undoing. Anthony Fusco gives a quality performance as the Tutor and Steven Anthony Jones’ brief entrance is powerful. Running time 90 minutes without intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

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