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Archikulture Digest

by Carl F Gauze

Iphigenia and Other Daughters

Iphigenia and Other Daughters
Adapted by Ellen McLaughlin
From a play by Euripides
Directed by Elizabeth Horn
Starring Eranthis Rose Quigley
Theatre UCF
Orlando, FL

In Greek mythology, King Agamemnon sacrificed his innocent daughter Iphigeneia (Quigley) in exchange for fair winds allowing him to sail against Troy. In the twisted logic of the ancient Greeks, this was a good deal. But in the eyes of Iphigenia, not so good. We begin the evening after her death, somewhere in the afterlife. Wrecked towers frame the upper stage. A sandpit lies below. Lights are dim and dramatic, the set highlighted with blood red lights as a sound rushes through the space; it reminded me of the unstoppable buzzing of a Sudafed overdose. Clytemnestra (Paige Dawkins) appears with a tea cup, stately and serene. She birthed Iphigenia, and pontificates slowly and elegantly. Chrysanthemums (Elisabeth Christie) is a sister, spared but despairing. The last sister, Electra (Amanda Dayton) crawls out of a sewer grating and chains herself in the sand, working it with her hands to reproduce…nothing. A oddly attractive chorus of platinum blonde women emote. Later, the brother Orestes (Shannon Burke) arrives with sad news, sad to the point of no clear path forward or backward. The spirit Iphigenia becomes a statue, the lights go up, the door opens, and the confused audience is thrust out into the 21st century daylight and that long drive home discussing the question: “WTF, over?”

I’ve seen my share of Beckett, Jarry, Ionesco, and Pinter. Yet this play left me more confused and disillusioned than any of those writers. I strove to define a conflict, struggled to decode speeches, Googled the play and Wikied the playwright. I even discussed it with the ushers. Still at a loss I praised the set, reported the soundscape, marveled at the staging, appreciated the lighting. I even celebrated the veracity of the silicon dioxide that cast must wash out of their costumes every performance. But I cannot, with any sense of fairness to my readers or my co-viewers, say what happened or what message I or anyone can carry to the masses. This production left me flabbergasted and flat on my back. I’m pretty sure everyone did an excellent job, but to what end I cannot say. Labeled a “Feminist Play,” but even this normally easy handle gives no succor as I never saw men denigrated or a woman applauded. After two days of non-continuous contemplation, I can say only this: “Wow. Just…Wow.”

Please, God, send me an easy musical comedy next weekend…

For more information on Theatre UCF, visit http://www.theatre.ucf.edu

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