Theater

Peter A. Campbell’s Yellow Electras

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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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