Tragically Now

Charles Mee's Iphigenia 2.0 throws a big violent Greek wedding—and it's yours

A myth for our times: Will Fowler, J.D. Goldblatt, and Jesse Hooker in 
Iphigenia 2.0
Carol Rosegg
A myth for our times: Will Fowler, J.D. Goldblatt, and Jesse Hooker in Iphigenia 2.0

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Iphigenia 2.0
By Charles Mee
Signature Theatre
555 West 42nd Street
212-244-7529

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Mee chooses his collage elements deliberately to disconcert, and they can get campily outré: self-help manuals on leadership and the conduct of bridesmaids; descriptions of dream vacations; George Washington's reflections on gentlemanly behavior. The weird selection feeds seamlessly into Landau's staging, which builds not toward a tragic intensity, with everyone onstage focused on the title character's fate, but to an orgiastic wildness in which everybody seems splintered and diminished, with Agamemnon, weeping over his daughter's corpse, the smallest and most irrelevant figure of all. The difference between Landau's and the more traditional directorial approaches can be summed up in two images: Ariane Mnouchkine's powerful production, seen at BAM a decade ago, ended unforgettably with Clytemnestra sprawled in a dead faint center stage, while masked soldiers danced, ignoring her, in unison jubilation. At the end of Landau's production, Kate Mulgrew's Clytemnestra—after a performance of stunning force, variety, and daring—ends as a shapeless, keening lump, wrapped in a sheet somewhere upstage right, while the soldiers and bridesmaids engage in what looks like a continuation of the asylum riot from the end of Marat/Sade. Yes, this is your country. This is the way we live now. You might want to consider doing something about that before we move on to version 3.0.

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