Iphigenia Ascends to the Gods in the East Village

greekfestival_homeiph_800x315_2(csc.org) As part of their Greek Festival, the Classic Stage Company on East 13th Street mounted a new translation of Euripides’ last play, Iphigenia in Aulis, complete with singing and dancing Greek chorus and it was great. The 2500 year old play, as fresh as yesterday, explored how parents with good intentions inflict pain on their children,Iphigenia-in-Aulis_2web(csc.org) wars begin from inadequate causes and women are helpless to stop them. Rachel Chavkin’s translation used clear modern language that retained much of the original’s beauty while the Bengers’ Indie rock music flirted with Greek-style monody and other antique-ish musical modes.  The chorus of “foreign women,” composed of both men and women and dressed in what I thought seemed quite reasonably period colorful costumes sang well in challenging close harmony.Iphigenia-in-Aulis_4webThree first rate actors performed all the speaking parts, with Kristen Sieh singing the difficult Iphigenia role.Iphigenia-in-Aulis_3webThe Classic Stage Company draws big-name actors such as Mandy Patinkin, John Turturro, F. Murray Abraham, Ethan Hawke and Dianne Wiest to perform Shakespeare, Chekhov and Brecht and they  get the same salary as the newest acting school graduates.They deem it a privilege to act in these plays and we feel the same way about seeing them. The space is comfortably large but the bathrooms are really really small; go before.image(timeout.com)

The Greek Festival lasts until September 27 and is followed by Brecht’s Mother Courage, also with music, Lessing’s Nathan the Wise with F. Murray Abraham and Ibsen’s Peer Gynt. Subscriptions to three plays begin at $100 for those under 30 (there were lots of young people in the audience–we really raised the average age) and up. They offer $20 seats for select Friday night performances and that’s what we bought. The East Village is incredibly noisy but interesting. Don’t miss this.






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