visitorium

Iphigenie en Ottawa

In Theatre on February 9, 2011 at 7:57 am

A week or so ago, I read myself a play, all on my lonesome and out loud, like God intended.  It was IPHEGENIA IN TAURIS by my old pinochle buddy Euripedes, and I was reading it because I was soon to see a French translation of this play performed, and I wanted to know the gist of it because, ma Francais, elle n’est pas ci bonne.  Should that even have been in la feminin?  I don’t even know.  You see my problem.

So I read it, and I dug it well enough, and figgered I was equipped to tackle the show.  Least I could do, since director and Fringe deity Natalie Joy Quesnel had personally invited me to the show.  And lemme tell you, that does not happen too often.  So off I hustled to la Salle Academique on Ottawa U. Campus, a much beloved Fringefest venue of mine, where I was quickly and happily greeted by the Joy herself (and Tweedy old Andrew Snowdon, because, well, why not?).  She even gave me a free poster for the show, because Njoy is the coolest director EVER.   Although it WAS around then that I took a glance at the program, and realized that she had based this play not on the Euripedes show, but on the later adaptation by Goethe.

You fucking son of a BITCH.

So had all my research been in vain?  Had I actually read a play for nothing?  We’d soon see, as we filed in to the hall for IPHIGENIE EN TAURIDE, Njoy’s all-girl version of the Euripi-Goethe classic.  Social animal that I am, I sat as far away from everyone else as I could…although, oddly, closer to the STAGE than anyone else.  Do they not realize that’s there the play happens?  Hmm.

The stage was set up pretty cool, with layered risers on either side and a trippy backdrop that had a bit of an HR Giger feel to it.  The mainstage was painted up like ocean waves, and if it sounds like I’m paying more attention than usual to this sort of thing, yes it IS because I’m trying to overcompensate for the fact that I hardly understood anything the actors actually SAID.  But boy, I sure liked hearing them say it.

The story is basically a follow-up to the Trojan War saga, where poor Iphegenie, daughter of Agamemenon was sacrificed, but secretly saved by a Goddess and hied to savage Tauride, where she was made head priestess in charge of killing dudes. Her only hope in life, besides her constant chorus of similarly clad gals, is the thought that her brother Oreste is still alive…which, it turns out, he is…and in Tauride to boot.  Enter the jealous, cloying king, and we’ve got ourselves a Greek play over here!

Well, turns out Goethe made what I would call improvements over the original, and doubtless, so did Njoy and her dynamite cast. With splendidly cool staging and *gorgeous* costumes, the action kept even a middling francophone like me entranced for the duration.  Sariana Monette-Saillant as our tortured lead Iphigenie was solid as a rock, and she and her chorus (Caroline Lefebvre and Gabrielle Brunet Poirier) made marvelous visual music together on the stage, flowing, dancing, moving in synch throughout.  Marieve Gauvreau-Pressau rocked it as Taurian King Thoas, very much NOT the one-dimensional villain he could have been.  And, honestly, it’s a little hard for me to judge the performances since my conversational French has devolved to pretty much grunt-level, so I’m winging it a bit here.  But I loved what I saw.

The whole show, the sound, the look, the delivery, was great, supercool fun, and that’s from a dumb Anglo perspective.  I personally enjoyed the changes from the original version I had read,  and wish there’d been a bigger house out to see how these gals rocked it out.  If you’re free the next few days (it’s on from the 8th-12th), do your soul a favour and go check it out.

It was a serious blast coming out for IPHIGENIE tonite.  Great hanging with Joy and Snowdon (and I FINALLY know what the secret project is!!), and now I’m up way too late, but whatever.    See it if you can, you fiends.  Now, I’m off to read the Goethe version of the play, and compare if I dare.  Peace, love and soul to you all,

The Visitor (and Winston)

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