Peter A. Campbell's Yellow Electras

Gadgets and Strauss: Yellow Electras
Eve Hartmann

Writer-director Peter A. Campbell's Yellow Electras, a multimedia meditation on the daughter of the House of Atreus (part of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater's "Incubator" series), displays lots of contemporary stage technology, like a "virtual" chorus of video- projected Valley girls—on cell phones, no less. Clips also play from old films of Electras past, and the three live actresses who divvy up the role of the heroine incessantly plug away at laptops, their webcams flashing distorted self-portraits on yet more screens. But for all the gadgetry, the time period this production really evokes is the European fin de siècle. Campbell draws on Kandinsky and Freud as much as the Greek tragedians, stages fully sung excerpts from Richard Strauss's Elektra opera, and critiques Victorian theories of hysteria.

It's an ambitious and heady hodgepodge, staged with cold elegance. But in emulating Charles Mee's classical mashups (even Mee himself gets sampled here), Campbell overpacks his text with so many allusions that the constantly shifting points of view never settle into communicable insight or even coherent questions. (The unexplained prominence of an onstage toilet and an assortment of Chinese-food cartons don't help either.) Still, while obscure, Yellow Electras delivers some intriguing art for art's sake, and it just might appeal to your inner aesthete.

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