January 22, 2016
Ah, Electra, child of a wretched mother, why art thou ever pining thus in ceaseless lament for Agamemnon, who long ago was wickedly ensnared by thy false mother's wiles, and betrayed to death by dastardly hand?,” says the chorus in Sophocles Electra written in 410BC.
Ann Liv Young took the challenge to create an evening dedicated to this dis-functional family saga. Stripped of Sophocles poetry and the style typical of Greek tragedies, this sad story is told through a cast of clumsy, self-serving deadbeats with southern accents. Despite the advice never to share a stage with children or animals, Young offers a pig sniffing around the sandbox as her chorus; while her 8 year old daughter hangs on the fringes as a cheerful counterpart to the dreariness.
Her collaborator Annie Dorsen suggested that this two and half hour program begin with a monologue from Sophocles play, which Elektra delivers in a fast, hissing monotone. Sparkling fringe pulled into six columns frame a circular sandbox in which three women in long dresses huddle together. The beginning had promise.
Pop songs keep popping up to give a beat for deliberately awkward movement - falling off chairs, coupling and tripling sex scenes and harsh, out-of-tune screeching. After intermission, the illusion of columns vanishes as the set beads are left to dangle for a "cabaret" scene. Gratuitous nudity, posturing, masturbating, and cunt grinding in the face of one front row female audience member unfolds. A woman with smeared makeup airs her frustration at her failure to jump on a pogo stick, both on a board and in the wheels of a bicycle. Orestes, who bounds around shirtless in the audience and stage, when he isn't standing on the periphery,yells that his weapon of choice is the heart. He also weeps that his bow and arrow accidentally kills a woman. The cast all bounce around, quite ordinarily, to another pop song.
This long evening culminated with an illuminating talk back. Young said that “I don’t feel pressured to make sense…I find all of this to be very funny. I must be a very dark person.”
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- D