Wednesday August 23rd 2017

“IPHIGENIA 2.0”

It is difficult to imagine that audiences who love Greek Tragedy will be enamoured by the physical interpretation that Charles Mee brings to Euripides’ “Iphigenia at Aulis” with Next Theatre’s “Iphigenia 2.0”, a unique adaptation to say the least. Directed by David Kersner ( of Lookingglass Theatre) this is a very physical, hip-hop interpretation brought into modern times with with pop culture references and music framing the tragic way in which history can repeat itself.. A great imperial power is going to war.Agamemnon ( Aaron Todd Douglas) in order to get his soldiers to follow him, knowing that they do not feel the need to enter this battle, declares that he will sacrifice his daughter to prove to them that this war is of great importance to their future.  His daughter, Iphigenia ( the lovely Rebecca Buller) comes to the island to wed her betrothed,Achilles ( deftly handled by Nick Vidal) unaware of what the future holds. Ricardo Gutierrez takes on the role of Menelaus, who is the leader that Agamemnon has made his promise to.

During this 80 minutes of a combination of rap,hip-hop and modern music and dance, we witness strange antics of the soldiers ( the Greek Chorus)  played with great dexterity by Wesley Daniel, Max Fabian,Luce Metrius and the very acrobatic Erik Strebig. There are also the bridesmaids, Alexa Ray Meyers and Ariella Marchioni, giggly young maidens who get into a “cat fight” that ends up in a kiss while all are fighting over what is taking place on this wedding day, that is more than a typical wedding and Iphigenia, through her mother,Clytemnestra ( a strong performance by Laura T. Fisher) of what her fate is to be. Sound confused? Well, you will be!

From the very start, where a man ( who appears to be a muslim) played by Anthony Kayer takes the stage to wipe down the metal wall, we are not sure of where we are and what we are doing. The four soldiers arrive to bring the wall down, opening us to what appears to be a soundstage or studio as we watch Agamemnon explainn to the people why we must fight this battle. The set by Rick andJackie Penrod is interesting, to say the least an dthe lighting by Heather Gilbert helps to set the moods. Rick Sims’ sound is very fitting and the props assembled by Jamie Karas and costumes by Marianna Czaszar are the pieces of the technical puzzle that make that part fit.

The story is about morality and living lies. In the end, even Iphigenia understands that if her father goes back on his word, his power and dignity will be lost forever. This is Greek Tragedy in a new light and at least is only 80 minutes of duration. Theater is for many a diversion- a chance to get away from the real world for a period of time and this production will give you 80 minutes of that. With the hip-hop, the near strip teases, the seductive dance scene between mother-in-law and son-in-law and a lot of acrobatics, you certainly will see a different type of show.

“Iphigenia 2.0” will continue at Next Theatre Company located at 927 Noyes Street in Evanston through October 14th with performances as follows:

Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Saturdays also offer a 4 p.m. show starting on September 22nd

Tickets are $30-$40 and can be purchased by calling 847-475-1875 ext 2 or by visiting www.nexttheatre.org

There is parking at the theater and on the street and of course the “EL” is another way to get to Noyes Street

To see more about this production, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click “Iphigenia 2.0”

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