Tuesday, May 9, 2017
AT&T Performing Arts Center, 2403 Flora Street, Suite 500, Dallas, Texas, 75201
Spanish version available in Bicidue.
Electra takes place in Argos a few years after the Trojan War. Even though the work showcases Electra as the main character, Orestes and Clytemnestra are in fact at the center of the plot.
The play was directed by Kevin Moriarty and displayed on Annette Strauss Square by the Dallas Theater Center. This adaptation was an interesting take on a classical play, especially because it used experimental techniques in a successful fashion. The actors and the audience interacted constantly and the screenplay was very dynamic and fluid, with no interruptions such as life itself. Most of the time, the audience experienced the actors talking directly to them, as if they were the cameramen in a film.
The play sides with a very patriarchal and androgenic (male-centered) worldviews. Indeed, King Agamemnon’s crimes are mostly ignored. Agamemnon is portrayed as a victim when he was never so. Let us remember how he sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia to allow the Greek fleet reach Trojan soil safely, just as Jephthah did in the Bible.
Electra displays brotherly bonds and familial stress and disagreements masterfully. This is especially a work about revenge and its cyclical nature but also about forgiveness (or the lack thereof) and earthly justice.
Electra presents the world as a continuous sequence of causal events. We see how every action has a reaction (Newton’s third law), and every crime has a punishment (from now on, we should probably refer to Sophocles before we refer to Dostoyevsky). For instance, let us explore how the following events were interrelated:
- Paris chooses Aphrodite (who promises Paris the love of most beautiful woman in the world) in despite of Hera and Athena (Apple of Discord event).
- Paris snatches Helen from Sparta and takes her to Troy, even though she was married to Menelaus.
- Trying to rescue Helen, the Greeks declare war on Troy.
- The Greek fleet gets delayed in Aulis and Agamemnon sacrifices his daughter Iphigenia to please Artemis.
- Clytemnestra takes Aegisthus as her lover and kills Agamemnon. Aegisthus becomes king.
- Electra allows Orestes to escape and he returns years later to kill his mother and her lover Aegisthus.
- Orestes gets persecuted by the Erinyes or Furies because of his crime.
I disliked the fact that Pylades does not appear in the plot and is instead replaced by an old pedagogue, who assimilates his part. Furthermore, Agamemnon assumes the chorus’s role at times and operates as Orestes’s conscience. The Electra complex from Jung’s Neo-Freudian psychology describes how daughters compete with their mothers for the attention of the fatherly figure. You can definitely see how Electra gets more drawn to his father, albeit in a non-sexual way (it is extremely common to see the psychosexual approach misinterpreted and misrepresented).
The play ends with the best possible scenario and both Orestes and Iphigenia (she surprisingly survived her sacrifice, such as Isaac did in the Bible) get reunited after Orestes is finally forgiven by the Gods: only a divine intervention can prevent future bloodshed and end the cyclical nature of revenge. It is very common for Greek myths to have different versions, especially based on the historical period in which they were written on. Also, Electra proves how violence cannot go on forever and, as Gandhi said: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.”